This movie is so scary because I believe every second of it. No manufactured scares, no fake-outs, no cheap and easy genre traps. Bill Paxton directed this film with the intensity of a vice grip; it’s as uncompromising as storytelling gets. The performances are searing, with Paxton off the Richter scale amazing, and Matthew McConaughey doing fantastic pre-Renaissance work as a man trying to figure out how to grasp the most fucked up of situations. Murder motivated by the warping of religion is something that you read about all the time, which is why the very fibers of this movie have the ability to make your skin crawl. And the way that the Paxton character implicates his children…it’s the stuff that true nightmares are made of. Why hasn’t Paxton directed more after this utterly masterful debut? Are there no stories he feels that are worth telling? Released to excellent reviews but close to zero box office back in the spring of 2002, this film is so ripe for rediscovery, especially considering how popular horror movies have become over the last 15 years. This one has brains, though, which is probably why its profile is so low; this is my sort of horror movie, the type of film where I get hooked because of how much I could see the story unfolding in real life. Bill Butler’s crisp cinematography maximizes space and utilizes all the right angles to cover the bone chilling twists and turns of the narrative, while the creepily effective musical score by Brian Tyler doesn’t go over the top with gotcha! musical cues. Powers Boothe is superb in one of his customarily gruff supporting turns. This is a thought provoking thriller that has remained swept under the rug for far too long. The final moments will send a chill up and down your spine.

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