Paxton packs punch in Frailty

Actor Bill Paxton didn't want anyone but himself to direct him in the Gothic drama Frailty.

Actor Bill Paxton didn't want anyone but himself to direct him in the Gothic drama Frailty.

"I was worried that a wild-eyed director would get hold of this material and sensationalise it just to shock people," he said.

So, he took the reins himself, in his directorial debut.

Paxton, best known for his performances in Twister, Titanic, Apollo 13 and A Simple Plan, was clearly so impressed with Brent Hanley's screenplay that he decided it was perfect for his first stint behind the camera (though he also takes the starring role).

"It's a powerful, provocative and frightening film about faith, lost innocence, and the sometimes indistinguishable nature of good and evil in the contemporary world," says Paxton.

"Frailty is an artfully-constructed psychological thriller and combines masterful storytelling with ambitious and disturbing themes. It's part thriller and part mystery, the plot is utterly original every step of the way and it builds to a stunning finish.

"Brent's script is truly a revelation. One of the qualities indicative of great writing is that, at each read, you get more out of it.

"It's a movie in the great tradition of Alfred Hitchcock or Robert Aldrich, a film that implies very, very dark things.

"When I read the script I was intrigued by its complex themes and edgy approach to storytelling - and I found myself wanting more involvement than the role of the father. It's intricate and it's complicated.

"It's an original Noir-Gothic thriller set in East Texas. I know the landscape. I know the characters. I know the parameters of this kind of story from my work in A Simple Plan, One False Move and Traveller.

"I learned a lot working with directors such as Sam Raimi ... and I thought: I can do this!"

Paxton plays a widower with two young sons who is a farmer and a former minister who is wrestling with a loss of faith. He reckons he has been visited by an Angel - with a list. On this list are the names of people the Angel feels should be given a good seeing-to. But, of course, subsequent events take dangerous and disturbing paths of their own.

"I wanted to do the script justice," explains Paxton, "I didn't want to sensationalise the story, rather I wanted to turn it into a classical film. My vision of the story has always been the idea that it's a very edgy one that pushes a lot of buttons, especially because children are involved.

"That was exactly the reason I wanted to give it a real, old Hollywood approach, where all of the darkness is implied instead of being explicit. We hear a chop or a scream, but we never see a drop of blood.

"My approach was to dramatise the intense and potentially shocking moments to make it a tale of suspense and horror."

The film has been picking up some outstanding reviews and has particularly collected praise from horror masters, writer Stephen King - "I've never seen a movie quite like Frailty. It's unique, thought-provoking, edge-of-the-seat entertainment" - and director Sam Raimi - "It's the most frightening horror picture I've seen since The Shining.

"It kept me on the edge of my seat begging for mercy" - so you know it comes with stand-out credentials.

Joining Paxton is Matthew McConaughey, who provides a remarkable narration throughout the story as it goes back in time to his childhood.

"It's a classic Gothic horror picture and I enjoyed trying something a little bit darker. Frailty is my brand of scary in that it is a very human story about someone taking something literally and doing something for righteousness sake, and that's the interesting part of the human mind," said McConaughey.

Also in the cast, as an FBI Agent, is Powers Booth, who said: "It's pretty rare for an actor to find a screenplay like this, one that stimulates your intellect and emotions at the same time."

The two young sons are played by Matthew O'Leary and Jeremy Sumpter - and Frailty is a film that certainly delivers quality, frights and high-octane entertainment.

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