Frailty is the story of a father and his two sons, recruited by God to destroy demons infesting the Earth.
After reading that first line, which is what the story is about, when you watch this film you will find that it is not what you expect. This is a film about family and faith. A story of a widowed father who loves his sons but is given a mission by God to kill the demons that only he can see, and that only by touching them. When his oldest son Fenton cannot see the demons, he believes his father is ‘not right in the head’.
Directed and starring Bill Paxton (Aliens, Near Dark), Frailty is a horror film in the vein of old Hitchcock films, which inspired the production. Never overly graphic, the violence is mostly off screen and never in your face. Bill Paxton gives the best performance of his career as a loving father who is also a possibly insane demon slayer. Matthew McConaughey (A Time to Kill, U-571) also stars as an adult Fenton who tells the story of his father to an FBI agent played by Powers Boothe.
Frailty is a scary film. While it is not scary in the vein of The Exorcist or Paranormal Activity, it is a a terrifying film about the probability of insanity and the consequences of unquestioned faith. As the film plays, you are constantly confronted with the question of whether the father is insane or is it actually true, was he actually spoken to by God. When you watch the film and contemplate the questions at play, the film becomes more terrifying than what is actually happening on screen. This is a film that will make you think, which is a great rarity in film, let alone a horror film.
The video quality on this release is passable, but it is obvious that there was not a lot of effort into the transfer. It is not the most gorgeous of films on blu-ray, but it is still better than a dvd copy. Honestly, the lack of video quality on this film actually helped it. It gave it a slight grain that made the ’70’s scenes seem a bit more documentary, and that always adds to the terror in a horror film.
The audio is presented in a 7.1 mix that sounds great on a 5.1 system like mine. (How I want a THX 7.1 system . . .Dare to dream.) This is mostly a subdued soundtrack, though, so it doesn’t make great use of the channels. It sounds great, but is not as surrounding as in newer films. There was never a point where it got crazy loud or the dialogue was drowned out.
The special features on the disc include 3 commentary tracks, the theatrical trailer, a making of documentary, deleted scenes with optional commentary by Bill Paxton, storyboards, and more. It is a decent amount of special feature for such a small horror film. Sadly, they are all recycled from the dvd release and there is no new information here.
As you can tell from my review, I love Frailty. In my opinion, it is one of the greatest horror films of the last decade. At times beautiful, at times heartbreaking, and at times terrifying, Frailty will make you think, and there is no higher honor that can be bestowed upon a film. When someone says ‘Frailty made me think’, you know that the film makers did their jobs, and did them well.
If you are a horror fan, check this film out. If you are not a horror fan, check this film out. It is not graphic, and you may just find a great film that you would have missed by not liking horror.
Movie *** out of ****
Blu-Ray **1/2 out of ****