Director-Rob Portmann, Norbert Caoili
Starring Aaron Blakely, Alena Dashiell, Tony Doupe
Scott’s Review #1,270
Reviewed June 24, 2022
As I began to watch Frayed (2009) the last thing I expected was to be as riveted as I was. I was enthralled, glued to my seat, frightened, and left completely floored by what I had experienced.
In the best of ways possible.
Things didn’t bode well at first since the previews on our rented DVD screamed low-budget and cheesy with sub-standard acting and ridiculously cheap production.
I expected a by-the-numbers, cliche-riddled Halloween (1978) style rip-off. Some thirty years after that film was made didn’t exactly scream relevant.
Maybe somebody’s experimental film school project?
I’ll add that with an astounding five credited screenwriters (rarely a good sign) the outcome could have easily been a muddled mess.
Expectations were shot through the ceiling only increasing with pleasure as the film went along. There are a couple of slow pockets here and there but the last fifteen minutes or so spiral Frayed out of control and into a fantastic new dimension in twists and turns.
Just when I thought I had things figured out and was satisfied with the surprise twist that wasn’t too hard to figure out, there appeared another twist, and yet another, and finally another twist!
I felt like I had done a series of summer saults and was breath taken by the film and left to ponder, consider, and reconstruct the storyline.
Sheriff Pat Baker (Tony Doupe) has led a life of tragedy. When his young son Kurt brutally murders his mother at sister Sara’s (Alena Dashiell) fifth birthday party the boy is left catatonic in a mental asylum.
Thirteen years later, Kurt escapes during a transfer and wanders the nearby woods dressed as a masked clown, chasing a security guard and stalking Sara and her friends. Baker and the team must capture the escapee before he wreaks more havoc.
But since the killer is his son is Pat too invested?
In ways, Frayed is a classic slasher film and a throwback to the 1980s. Sara and her best friend sneak out of the house to meet their boyfriends for beer and sex in the middle of the woods amid a campfire. Sara and her father and stepmother live in a small, remote town.
What better setting for a crazed killer on the loose with bloodletting on his mind?
These are standard setups for dire events.
But Sara, played well by Alena Dashiell isn’t your typical ‘final girl. She drinks a bit and has sex on her mind while remaining strong and careful.
The opening scene is a doozy.
In a flashback, we see Kurt’s mother enter his bedroom and scold him for teasing the birthday girl. She forgets she has a camcorder on and is quickly bashed to death with a baseball bat. The camera viewpoint is from the floor so all we see is the mother’s head repeatedly beaten.
It’s gory and sickening and led to the film being banned in more than one country.
Director, Rob Portmann, who co-wrote the film will not appeal to the faint of heart with this scene though the gore is left to a minimum throughout the rest.
There is so much more to this film than gore.
In retrospect, aspects of Frayed are like a puzzle. Why is the security guard the focus as much as Sara? Why does Pat’s new wife look like his dead wife? Why is a team softball photo constantly shown?
Frayed might warrant a second or third viewing to see how well it holds up.
Surprisingly, the acting is quite good by most of the cast and made on a small budget. Professionalism is laid out, especially by Blakely and Doupe and all the players give compelling performances and are given rich character development.
It’s a shame that Frayed did not garner more notice because the film is fiendish, terrific, and satisfying. Given it’s 2022 and it was made in 2007, and released in 2009 its time may have passed.
Frayed (2009) will please fans who love good old-fashioned slasher flicks and who love a good twist or three or four.
Borrowing from previous films but with an identity as fine as The Sixth Sense (1999) it’s to be remembered in the best of ways.