Director: Bill Paxton
Was this ever in the theatres? I’d never heard of it until I saw it at the video store. It’s a really good thriller. Matthew McConaughey is excellent in an understated but powerful performance. And the two kids (especially Fenton) are outstanding. The story opens with Matthew (Fenton) visiting an FBI agent and telling him that the notorious “Hand of God” killer was his brother. What unfolds is a bizarre and horrifying story: young Fenton and his little brother Adam live with their father in a small town in Texas. Their mother has died. One night their kindly father suddenly reveals that angels have told him his family has a new mission in life: to kill demons. Because their family is special, only they can see these demons. Everyone else sees them as regular people. The older brother Fenton slowly realizes his father means to murder people, but finds himself unable to stop him. He watches in horror as his father brings home strangers and chops them up with an axe. The poor kid is terrified, yet what can he do? The FBI agent listens to this story and slow begins to believe it. But he wants proof, so Fenton agrees to take him to the rose garden where the bodies are buried. What follows is a great twist (I saw it coming but it’s still very well done) and the ending is truly chilling.
I usually don’t like films that portray religious fanatics as killers. After all, who decides what’s fanatical? If I go to a church and raise my hands when I pray, does that make me a fanatic? If I decide Gods wants me to become a missionary to India does that make me a fanatic? God told Abraham to sacrifice his only son and Abraham was going to do it. Was that fanatical? The line between faith and madness is narrow — frail — and this film raises lots of provocative questions. Fascinating. In many ways it’s a simple thriller like so many Hitchcock films: McConaughey and the FBI agent (awesomely done by Powers Boothe) spend their time in just a handful of scenes talking, but every line of dialogue is loaded. The flashbacks are more dramatic, but even there there’s not a lot of special effects. It’s a very raw, realistic, and morbidly believable tale of murder and mayhem. Well done; an impressive directing debut by Paxton (who also plays the creepy-but-friendly murdering dad).