Directed by Bill Paxton, starring Bill Paxton, Matthew McConaughey, Powers Boothe, Matthew O'Leary and Jeremy Sumpter.

Senior FBI agent Wesley Doyle (Boothe) is called back to the Dallas bureau late one night to meet a young man (McConaughey) waiting in his office. The stranger introduces himself as Fenton Meeks and tells Doyle he knows the identity of a serial killer the lawman has tracked for years. Doyle is sceptical, but as Meeks casts his mind back to 1978 and what happened to him (O'Leary), his brother Adam (Sumpter) and their father (Paxton), he settles in for a long night.

One of the best character actors around, Bill Paxton has appeared in everything from 'Aliens' to 'One False Move' to 'A Simple Plan'. 'Frailty' marks his feature debut behind the lens and shows that he learned plenty from working with the likes of James Cameron, Sam Raimi and Walter Hill. It's a smart, compact thriller which plays like an extended episode of 'The Twilight Zone' with Paxton's low key direction making it all the more eerie. At its core are questions of spirituality, the paranormal and the bonds between family, all wrapped up in a plot which makes you more uneasy with every passing scene. What Meeks recounts to Doyle is so out there that you'll be lured in straight away and Paxton does a fine job of mourning the loss of childhood innocence as the young Fenton and Adam are torn in different directions by their father's desire to wipe out evil.

You wish that McConaughey would do more stuff like 'Frailty' because Paxton sets up great scenes between himself and Boothe while also coaxing superb performances out of his two youngest stars. The director himself hits the mark - as always - in the central role of the everyman with a massive burden to bear and you'll spend the whole film trying to guess whether he's found the truth or lost his reason. By the time you get your answer, Paxton's twisted the story in so many directions that just when you think you've got Meeks' figured out, he piles on another shock. This looks - and chills - like the start of a very promising new career for Paxton.

Harry Guerin