Frailty | Chicago Reader

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Screenwriter Brent Hanley starts from an old chestnut, the confession flashback, to build another of those cleverer-than-thou films that The Sixth Sense has made fashionable. A troubled man (Matthew McConaughey) walks into an FBI office claiming to have information about a series of murders; the fed agent (Powers Boothe) is skeptical but willing to listen. Which of course leads us back many years to the story of the man's father (a creepy Bill Paxton, also the director here), who becomes convinced he can see demons and has been sent to earth to destroy them—a mission he wants his two young sons to share. It's good old-fashioned rural gothic that would make Flannery O'Connor proud, with tricky switcheroos that keep shaking up our assumptions about what's going on. Unfortunately, we can sense the screenwriter lurking, so all the twists feel like tricks pulled on us. 100 min.

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