This is not hyperbole folks...I've decided to be a generous bastard today and clue you all in on The Perfect Halloween Movie! Let me first say, I'm not talking about a slasher flick here. This isn't one of your Friday the 13th's, or Nightmare on Elm Street's, it's not a Saw movie, or the titular Halloween itself, and it's not even the first Scream film, though I do give Scream an honorable mention.
To be sure, there's a time and a place for all the above movie's I mentioned, however, ironically enough, Halloween is neither the time nor the place. Okay, so that's not entirely true. Let me clarify...I was once at a Halloween party (yes, someone actually invited me to a party!), and they had the TV on with the volume on mute, and The Blair Witch Project was playing. In this scenario, a slasher type flick is the perfect remedy for what ails you. Random familiar images silently flashing across a screen...you're walking past, you look over, you nod in appreciation, maybe you even stop and watch for a minute or two, but that's it, no more than a minute or two.
You are at a party afterall, you don't need to draw any negative attention to yourself as the guy sitting there intently watching a disembowelment with just a touch of drool at the corner of your mouth. Unless of course you're trying to get noticed by an Emo chick. But if you are, you're probably Emo yourself, and wouldn't be at a party to begin with, so this is all moot, and back to what I said earlier, a minute or two, and no more!
But here's the thing, sure, this year the day of Halloween itself actually falls on a Friday, but how often does that happen, it falling on a Friday or Saturday? I would say the odds are incalculable. What I'm offering you in the form of The Perfect Halloween Movie is something you watch (possibly) alone on the (lets say) Tuesday of October 31st. You've already partied your brains out on that previous Saturday, and your hangover has finally subsided. The last of the trick-or-treaters have come and gone, so here's what you do:
You crack your window a bit to let the crisp Fall air in. You load your Dvd player. You turn off all the lights and you bundle up to both keep warm and "protect" yourself. Everytime the wind howls, it gives you goosebumps. You've set the mood. It's time now, the atmosphere is ideal. You hit the "play" button on the remote and settle in for your first viewing of what will become a yearly tradition of The Perfect Halloween Movie! Have I piqued your interest? That Perfect Halloween Movie's title? FRAILTY!!!
I could spend hours extolling the virtues of this film. It stars Bill Paxton (who also marked his feature film directorial debut here), Matthew McConaughey, Powers Boothe, and the true stars that really carry this film - Matt O'Leary and Jeremy Sumpter.
I don't want to give too much away, but Paxton plays a single Dad who comes home one day and proclaims to his two boys, Fenton and Adam, that an angel has tapped him to do God's work.
The sincerity with which Paxton delivers these words, would be laughable coming from any other actor. Paxton knows this character, he knows the man he is portraying and never treats him like the kook any of us would think he were, were he a real person.
And trust me, when Paxton produces the "tools" which the angel provided him with, you really do think he's a kook.
Among the many things Frailty does right is that it never leans one way or the other in revealing whether or not Paxton is off his nut, or if he really is doing the Lord's work. And it is this balance that is the basis of the story.
On the one side you have the eldest son Fenton, now with the weight of the world on his shoulders believing his father has gone mad, and trying to make his kid brother understand that what their Dad is doing is wrong.
Then on the flip side of that coin, you have Adam, the youngest son, who admires his brother, but idolizes his father and takes their new "job" to heart. He just can't figure out why Fenton isn't on board.
Like I said earlier, I don't want to give away anymore, plotwise, but that doesn't mean I'm done lauding Frailty...
This movie, tonally, is moody and highly atmospheric. There isn't too much actual on-screen violence, so much as inferences to violence and it just sucks you in. It makes you feel for young Fenton and the inner turmoil he's so obviously going through. He love's his Dad, but it's his job to protect his kid brother, first and foremost.
Frailty, if I had to categorize it would definitely fall into the "thriller" category, versus the "horror" category, but this story is titled "The Perfect Halloween Movie" and not "The Perfect Horror Movie."
A film can be spooky and chilling without gore or horror, and Frailty is the prime example of just such a film.
I just want to set one thing straight before I go on, I am by no means denouncing horror film's. I love a Dead film (Night of the Living..., Dawn of the..., Shaun of the..., and so forth) as much as the next guy, but I have yet to watch one that evokes in me the same level of, I don't know, the same level of empathy that Frailty does for it's protagonists.
And that to me is what Halloween is all about. You put on costumes to be/feel like someone (or something) else. Empathy!
Frailty is so good a movie that I lent it to a friend a few years ago and have never gotten it back (I'm looking at you Sharon, I don't know where you are, but where ever it is I'm looking at you!).
And really, that should be the tag line: Frailty - so good you'll want to steal it!
Honorable mention goes to:
...It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown...
...and as noted earlier, the original Scream...
You'll have a great night with any of these, but chances are you've already seen Scream, you're too cool for Charlie Brown (fyi - you're not), you think Sleepy Hollow is silly, and you don't want to read the subtitles of The Orphanage. So Frailty it is!
You can thank me in the form of a date with your sister...I hear she's loose.