FRAYED starts off with a bang, subjecting the viewer to what has to be the most brutal on-camera bludgeoning this side of IRREVERSIBLE. We're watching a home video of a child's birthday party and although little Kurt Baker's behavior has been consistently atrocious throughout the festivities; the murder of his mother with a baseball bat really takes the cake. Needless to say, it's off to the funny farm with Kurt, where he shall sit in a chair and think about his actions for thirteen years whilst giving kid sis some time to adjust to normalcy before his inevitable homecoming. Yep, the springboard applied here is Slasher Movie 101, harking back to pep-pep HALLOWEEN but don't get too cozy kids, the playing field may look familiar, but there are curve balls up ahead.
Here is a movie that is well aware of its audience's expectations and remarkably uses them to its advantage without condescension. You never have to think twice about whether there are real fans of horror driving this rig. The atmosphere is spot on and the scares well orchestrated, even the timing, lax by today's standards, rings true of a more patient early eighties hack and slash. Perhaps most importantly the masked killer himself is a successful ode, although it should be said that his lumbering stride and rag doll silhouette favors MADMAN more than MYERS.
On the downside FRAYED may be a bit imprudent with showing some of its cards too early in the game, although it hardly alters the level of suspense, I felt I was privy to a particular reveal way before I should have been. That said, FRAYED can afford to be generous with the dispensing of information because as it turns out, it has more than one trick up its sleeve. Some of the performances might leave something to be desired, but the pivotal ones (particularly TONY DOUPE as Kurt's sheriff father) are right on the money. All lapses considered, this is still a damn sleek looking independent production that follows through on its mission to honor a specific type of film while adding modern flourishes and a more in-depth psychological under current.
The real break down goes like this: the first kill made me wince, an appearance of the killer in a window mid way through the film made me jolt upright and the ultimate conclusion had me thinking: "Holy crap!" If that's not time well spent I don't know what is. If you are a classic horror fan I think you will enjoy FRAYED, and if you are a slasher fan, you just might love it.