This week’s Monday Murder Movie is character actor Bill Paxton’s directorial debut, Frailty. Starring Matthew McConaughey and Paxton himself, this twisty turny thriller is an unexpected little gem.
In the present day, a troubled young man Fenton Meiks (McConaughey) walks into the Dallas Texas FBI office one rainy night and believes his brother Adam is the infamous God’s Hand Killer. Fenton will only talk to Agent Doyle (Powers Boothe) and explains he is only coming forward as his brother called him shortly before committing suicide and confessed his sins.
Fenton tells Agent Doyle about how his father (Paxton) came to believe he was a warrior of God, destroying demons that walk the earth in human form. Dad Meiks believes God and his angels are speaking to him, giving him the names of who to kill and providing the weapons to do so.
Adam believes his father, he claims to see the demon’s true form but Fenton refuses to accept this as anything other than murder. In the present day, Fenton informs Doyle of the location of the unmarked graves he helped dig to bury the victims of his father’s reign as The God’s Hand Killer.
Frailty was largely overlooked on release, positive reviews and up and coming star McConaughey wasn’t enough to draw in a mass audience. That said, the movie made its budget back and sold well on DVD so thankfully it got seen, eventually.
McConaughey gives a great performance, before rom-coms dragged him down it’s sometimes easy to forget how good an actor he can be. His recent efforts with Killer Joe, Magic Mike and a cameo in Eastbound and Down has seen the actor on much better form. Matt O’Leary and Jeremy Sumpter who play the young Fenton and Adam are both fine young actors, and of course Paxton is as compelling as ever.
Bill Paxton has worked with some big directors over the course of his career, these include; James Cameron, Steven Soderbergh, Sam Raimi, Ron Howard, John Hughes and Robert Rodriguez, he’s naturally learned a thing or two from these A-listers and Frailty shows real promise of an accomplished filmmaker.
There is a constant sense of unease throughout, you’re not sure is Dad Meiks is a mean servant of God, or a deranged serial killer who has poisoned his children’s minds with his insanity.
This might not be a murder mystery in the purist sense, at times the tone leans towards horror and the end results are more akin to psychological thriller. Frailty is a satisfying 90 minutes and a well-made little movie, so it comes as surprise that Bill Paxton has only directed one other feature film to date.
Although a ray of hope came about last year, Paxton co-wrote and directed a short film called Tattoo. Starring Powers Boothe, Daniel Henney and James Hong, the short was filmed on the splendid Red Epic 5K camera and is available to view below.