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Introduction
'Frailty' is a taut, perfectly executed Horror/Thriller that didn't receive the attention it deserved theatrically, but has been brought home with a respectable DVD from Lions Gate.

Frailty
“He said he had a vision that night, a vision from God. An angel came to him and told him the truth of this world, and revealed God’s special purpose for our family.”

Film
‘Frailty’, star Bill Paxton’s directorial debut, is a macabre Southern Gothic tale that deals with Divine Rite and the deterioration of a family. Dad (Paxton) wakes his sons one night and tells them their special purpose. God spoke to dad and told him that the end of the world is coming and has been chosen to prepare for the final battle by rooting out demons—demons that look like regular people—and destroying them. To his son Fenton (Matt O’Leary), Dad’s revelation sounds an awful lot like an alibi. The boys aren't allowed to tell anyone, and only they can tell who the demons are. Is Dad just crazy, or has he really been granted this miraculous second sight?

Years later, Fenton (now McConaughey) makes his way to the FBI to finally cleanse himself of what he knows, for the ‘God’s Hand’ killings have gone unsolved since his childhood. Powers Boothe, the agent in charge of the God’s Hand investigation listens to the story, and wonders, could anything so crazy be true?

Could it be? Over a spectacular 99 minutes, ‘Frailty’ unravels the mystery and answers that very question. The journey one takes as a viewer is disturbing, as the subject matter is dark and terrifying.

This film is beautifully crafted. All involved obviously backed it with great enthusiasm and gave the production one-hundred and ten percent. The story is rich and deep and doesn’t betray itself in any way. The performances are top draw; Paxton makes you believe Dad’s tragic father figure, haunting the film with a real sense of doom.

Frailty
The film’s plot is so dark and disquieting that one would think the production would have been hard pressed to find young actors capable of the range needed for the Meiks boys, Fenton and Adam, but they struck gold with Matt O’Leary and Jeremy Sumpter. They bring weight to the picture and through their performances lend credence to Dad’s claims.

Both as director and star, Bill Paxton proves once again that he is one of the most underappreciated performers out there, much more than just one of James Cameron’s regulars. His decisions pertaining to the film’s construction and plot are deft and so well executed that there can be no doubt that he has a fine career as a director ahead of him.

This film is everything one could want- a well crafted, finely written and frighteningly performed thriller of the highest caliber. I highly recommend it to anyone willing to stomach the material. . I highly recommend it to anyone willing to stomach the material.

Frailty
Video
Such a dark film, 'Frailty' is, both in content and in visualization. The cinematographer, Bill Butler, lent his eye to the production and came to the table with a beautifully dark film, and this DVD does nothing but justice to his efforts. When I say blacks are black, Lord in heaven they’re black! Framed approximately at an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, ‘Frailty’ has an amazing transfer, considering the film’s extremely low-budget origins. With such a heavy concentration of darkness throughout the picture, one might expect artifacting running rampant, but that is not so here, even in the darkest scenes. Very little edge-enhancement, no grain, maybe one little print flaw is all that can be commented on here. A-Plus, Lion's Gate.

Audio
As I said above, all involved with ‘Frailty’ must have really loved the project, as that admiration shows through with the production of the DVD. The sole option here is an English 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound mix, that is pretty grand. Ominous and dynamic, this track has what it takes to propel the narrative forward, and draw in the viewer. Surrounds are used to full effect, whether it be the inescapable drone of the insects that surround the Meiks home, or the violent punctuation as  the business end of ‘Otis’ condemns a demon into the great beyond, this sound mix shines. Low-end is given a great deal to do and never disappoints and spatially the track is marvelous. No matter the locale, an environment is established immediately, lending to the overall atmosphere. As creepy and jarring as the film, this sound mix is top of the line and not to be missed.

Extras
I just love DVD’s that don’t tout themselves as special editions and turn a great collection of extras, especially when they retail for under twenty dollars. You’ve got to love that.

‘Frailty’ isn’t decked out by any means, but what extras that are included are so well produced, that it is kind of flattering as a DVD consumer to be able to pick up discs like this one. Firstly, there are three feature-length audio commentaries, the first coming from Director Bill Paxton.

Apparently, Paxton is the only human being that doesn’t need to breathe when he speaks, since he lets up nary a bit during the feature’s entire running time. Full of information and anecdotes, Paxton does a fine job-- better yet, a spectacular job filling the shoes of the director. His insight is enormous and his skills as an actor obviously helped him to direct. It’s quite refreshing to hear a director so breathlessly excited to be involved with a film. Paxton is full of praise for just about everyone and even takes time during the end credits to thank a multitude of people personally.

Frailty
The second commentary comes from the producer, editor and composer; David Kirschner, Arnold Glassman and Brian Tyler respectively. This commentary is a bit less interesting but still manages to impart a great range of information, rarely ever repeating anything Paxton said. The three men were recorded together and have a great camaraderie; as I said, everyone involved was really onboard and had great faith in the project. Give this track a listen if your forte lies in the area of pacing and story decisions.

The third track is with screenwriter Brent Hanley. This was Hanley’s first script, and you have to hand it to the guy, he wrote one corker of a film. Hanley’s comments never betray him. The truth of the matter is that he went over his story with such a fine-toothed comb, that you really can’t cast any stones. As Hanley speaks, he proves this. He is a very intelligent and thoughtful writer and never seems to be the kind of guy to take all of the credit. His comments have strictly to do with the film’s subject matter, the approach to making the people on screen believable and anything of that sort. Give this track a listen all you would-be writers.

‘The making of Frailty’; aptly named, since it is just that. It’s all talking heads and on set footage, but it does the job. Interviews with all involved are core here and each gets to say what needs to be said during the twenty minute running time.

‘Anatomy of a scene’; this is a great program, an episode of a series on the Sundance Channel. An episode can also be found on the Special Edition DVD of ‘Memento’. This feature deals specifically with the production of the car ride shared by Fenton and Agent Doyle (Boothe). The car never moved and ‘Anatomy’ goes step by step, showcasing each trick used to accomplish the illusion. This feature should join the ‘Film School in a Box’ club, for it truly shows that film is an art, both technically and visually.

Next is a photo gallery. ‘Frailty’ in particular had a nifty run of production photos, with all of the main players really setting the mood and conveying the tone of the picture. They are all collected here, and aren’t just filler. One might find themselves looking at these more than once.

There are four deleted scenes included. ‘The Bible’, ‘Tape’, ‘Digging’ and ‘Protect Us’ make up the four exclusions from the film. Include is optional commentary by Paxton. I will reiterate, Paxton is extremely intelligent, and his reasons for excluding the scenes are dead-on right, so there is no question; however, it is a bonus to have them included.

Frailty
Next are storyboards for three scenes in the film. ‘Magic Weapons’, ‘The Angel’ and ‘The Sheriff’. These storyboards really capture the flavor of the film, and for the most part, the picture followed them unerringly.

Also included is the theatrical trailer. All I’m going to say is avoid it if you have yet to watch the film. For that matter, don’t view any of the features prior to watching the film.

Conclusion
‘Frailty’ is a fine film that has been given a fine DVD and I urge everyone brave enough to watch to pick this disc up. You’ll not regret it. Unless you’re a demon, that is.


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