August 13, 2016


Bill Paxton, 2001
Bill Paxton is an actor who wouldn't make a good straight up villain because of his charm / likeability factor. That is why his "Dad Meiks" character succeeds in this 2001 directorial debut (screenplay by by Brent Hanley) by Paxton.

Almost immediately you like the Dad character. Hard-working, eats dinner with his boys every night and warmly sends them off to bed before retiring himself. It's when he is awoken by a vision that it all changes. He tells his boys how God will be making a kill list for him, demons that he must rid the world of. Your suspicion of Dad grows, and you find yourself finding a certain comfort in Fenton's character, who is seemingly the only sane character left. His impressionable younger brother Adam is going to do anything his father wishes so there's virtually no hope for him to snap out of it.

What transpires is a dark southern gothic story with some real twists. The way that the film shifts your vision of who is good and bad is impressively executed. It's a good opportunity to see some of McConaughey's early acting chops which are evident in the film. He's kind of in his wheelhouse as the Texas-based drifter type that mutters slowly and thought-out. But overall it's a unique film that grabs you, and there's definitely some black comedy elements at work even if they are a bit buried beneath the surface. Paxton is really so perfect for the role as the eccentric father who really feels like he's God hand and doing something important. A straight up scary guy would never work. And it's his ability to be the benign father early on and get you invested in him as the good guy that is the springboard for all of the alternating that continues throughout the film.

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