borrows its mercurial sensibilities from movies as diverse as Night of the Hunter, The Rapture, A Simple Plan
(which would have been a better title than Frailty
), and maybe an episode or two of The X-Files
(I bet that Stephen King would approve of this movie). Bill Paxton, who directed and stars in Frailty
, is a prankster working in the thriller/horror form, and he uses his gee-whiz bland handsomeness to a purposeful end: to set-up and dash audience expectations. At first you think that his earnest, matter-of-fact acting represents a piss-poor attempt to dramatize a psycho, and then you realize at the end that that he has been playing his character perfectly straight for a purpose, and so it doesn't suffer too much in comparison to, say, Terry O'Quinn's deliberately creepy satirical portrayal of a psycho husband in The Stepfather
(O'Quinn's character is another serial murderer in service for an ostensibly higher cause): Paxton's bland and sincere performance gives credence to one of the three plot kickers at the end of the movie. Part of the fun (and part of the shortcomings) of Frailty
is the loopiness of the script, and it would be impossible to specifically discuss the pros and cons of this movie without spoiling the plot. A number of anti-religious types may initially take a modicum of pleasure at a movie that is ostensibly about a religious zealout who goes on a murderous rampage carrying out the word of God; I'm happy to say that Paxton doesn't play down to the obvious pleasures that such a scenario might provide, and rather opts for a messy set of feelings instead (painting religious zealouts as religious murderers is, after all, too easy a target). Even for those who are caught up with the narrative, the movie is likely to leave a bitter taste; Paxton and screenwriter Brent Hanley don't offer easy resolutions--(minor spoiler: some people won't like a movie that appears to be skewering the religious fanatic to screw around with those expectations). The movie ultimately entertains us by providing rational explanations for the beliefs and actions of crazies that walk this earth, explanations that are crazier than the crazies themselves.