Gillian Flynn
April 19, 2002 AT 04:00 AM EDT

It’s a frightfully effective marketing campaign: Ads for Bill Paxton’s directorial debut, the serial-killer thriller Frailty, costarring Matthew McConaughey, feature raves—but not from the usual suspects. ”The most disturbing horror picture I’ve seen since The Shining” crows Sam Raimi, who directed Paxton in A Simple Plan. ”Electrifying,” offers Aliens helmer James Cameron, while Stephen King calls it ”edge-of-the-seat entertainment.” Paxton says collecting the blurbs wasn’t as easy as calling his old bosses: ”These are guys who won’t put their name on until the quality goes in.” And since Paxton didn’t know King, he sent a Frailty screener last fall with crossed fingers. ”I really just wrote him cold,” Paxton admits. But why the novel approach, since reviews have been kind? ”Rather than use bland quotes from critics nobody’s ever heard of, we thought filmgoers might be better able to relate to [these three],” says Lions Gate prez Tom Ortenberg. No offense, Joel Siegel.

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