FearTASTIC Vault O’FUN #43
Director(s): Bill Paxton
Writer(s): Brent Hanley
Starring: Bill Paxton, Matthew McConaughey, Matt O’Leary, Jeremy Sumpter
Like any great horror enthusiast, it’s easy to get wrapped up in one facet of the genre to the point where you create a niche within your own enjoyment which ironically, ends up being quite bland in the long run. The best part of horror flicks to this FearTASTIC Vault keeper is the vast amount of sub-genres that achieve the same goal; to entertain using the macabre! I remember being in High School just fresh from the onslaught of the teenage slasher revival (i.e. Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Every Damn Movie from 1998 – 2002, etc.) and I was trying to get back into my groove by delving back in to my stock of classic slasher flicks with my old friends (i.e. Hockey Mask freak, Nightmare man, creepy William Shatner, etc.). Since there was no real buffer between slasher flicks and err, well, slasher flicks, a part of me was getting a tad bored with the sub – genre in general. A shock to the system is what was needed for my horror groove to come back to full form, something that would make me excited about the prospect of how many different sub-genres the wonderful world of horror had to offer.
Interestingly enough, there was really nothing about Frailty that made me want to rip it off the shelves. Although the internet was going strong, it was hardly the first source I used back then for horror reviews. This flick was a main stream entry with some strong stars in the likes of Bill Paxton and Matthew McConaughey which went against the rebellious streak that I had against the mainstream bombardment of teenage slasher flicks. The trailers itself seemed to be reminiscent of other flicks about crazy families where everyone looked so serious and the poster itself looked eerily similar to another main stream horror flick; Hannibal. By the time I got my eyeballs glued onto this movie however, I realized that all of that didn’t matter because this was one of the best psychological horror thrillers that ever graced my presence and all without warning, a shock if you will.
The flick centers around Fenton Meiks (McConaughey) telling the FBI that he has information about the “God’s Hand” serial killer. From there, the story evolves into recounting events of his family and upbringing with his father (Paxton) believing that they have a destiny in being demon hunters/killers. The story along with the brilliant acting from both present Meiks and the flash back scenes with his family get you sucked in to the story so fast, by the time you’re half way through you have no idea who you are rooting for to succeed. Are we rooting for the father who might actually be telling the truth that he has visions of demons walking the earth or the son who is tortured by the fact that his dad may be just a run of the mill serial killer? The dynamic between the two brothers is also fantastic with one wanting to follow at his father’s footsteps and the other hesitant and more importantly, suspiciously fearful. With McConaughey narrating the story, you get a treat in seeing someone as talented as himself portraying the paranoia and anxiety that is evenly matched by his younger self portrays throughout the movie. Did I also add that there is a twist to this flick? A wonderful M. Night level twist that makes you want to play the movie again right when the credit hits just so you can see it for the second time and see if you missed anything that would have given the plot away sooner. By the time the movie ended, I was revitalized and remembered how much variety there was in the world of horror and thus began my streak into psychological thrillers. I remember checking out some of my personal favorites from the genre (Primal Fear, Misery, Jacob’s Ladder, etc.) which beautifully led me into my Asian ghost horror phase that swept the nation for most of the 2000’s.
A good lesson to any horror enthusiast is that take advantage of the variety horror has to offer. If anything, it will spark your interest in something wickedly new.
Also…don’t be a hipster and ban mainstream flicks. I was a dumb teenager.
RIP to the man who starred and directed this FearTASTIC flick, Bill Paxton. Although you are famous for a variety of roles, this is the one that I’ll choose to remember your incredible talent.
Also, you looked so bitchin’ swinging an axe.
Life is FAR more interesting when we take interest in things that scare us.