Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Bill Paxton|
|Produced by||David Blocker
|Written by||Brent Hanley|
|Music by||Brian Tyler|
|Edited by||Arnold Glassman|
|David Kirschner Productions
American Entertainment Co.
Cinerenta Medienbeteiligungs KG
|Distributed by||Lions Gate Films|
|Release date(s)||November 17, 2001 (Deep Ellum Film Festival)|
|Running time||100 minutes|
Frailty is a 2001 psychological thriller film, directed by and starring Bill Paxton, and co-starring Matthew McConaughey. This film is the directorial debut for Paxton. The plot focuses on the strange relationship between two young boys and their fanatically religious father, who believes that he has been commanded by God to kill demons.
A man (Matthew McConaughey) enters the Dallas, Texas FBI office one night and introduces himself as Fenton Meiks. He wants to speak to Agent Wesley Doyle (Powers Boothe) about his belief that his brother Adam (Levi Kreis) is the "God's Hand" serial killer that the FBI have been hunting.
Fenton explains he is only coming forward now because earlier that day, Adam called him to say that he cannot stop the "demons" because there are too many, and shot himself after hanging up. Fenton claims to have buried Adam's body at the Thurman Rose Garden. Doyle is skeptical, and Fenton unfolds through flashback the story of their childhood with their widower father (Bill Paxton).
Years ago, as children, Adam and Fenton lived a simple life under the caring attention of their father. However, one night he claimed to have had a vision from God that instructs them to find and destroy demons whose names are to be provided by an angel. He's been provided with special tools: gloves to protect his hands, a lead pipe to knock the "demons" unconscious, and an ax named "Otis" to "destroy" them. Fenton goes into denial, refusing to believe their father would murder people, but Adam quickly believes their father to be doing God's work. Their father also tells them that God will protect them from being caught by the authorities.
Their father captures his first victim; when he touches her, he claims to "see" the sins she has committed, and feels no guilt when he uses Otis to "destroy" her. Fenton is horrified but Adam claims he can "see" the woman's sins as well, which leads to Fenton concluding that his brother has been brainwashed. They bury her outdoors in the Thurman Rose Garden, which is adjacent to the Meiks house.
When their father kidnaps another victim and orders Fenton to "destroy" him, Fenton flees and informs the town sheriff (Luke Askew). Fenton's father ends up killing the sheriff, blaming Fenton for the act that he believes to be "murder" unlike the previous killings. Their father confesses that the angel told him that Fenton is also a demon that must be slain. He doesn't want to believe this, so he locks Fenton in the cellar for over a week, hoping to change his beliefs. Fenton nearly starves to death, and is only released when he has a "vision of God" and says he understands what to do.
Fenton, Adam and their father track down and capture another "demon". This time, Fenton is given Otis to decapitate the man, but he instead kills his own father with the ax. Fenton moves to release the captured man, but Adam grabs the ax and slays the "demon", completing his father's work that he apparently wants to continue.
In the present, Agent Doyle is convinced that Fenton's story has weight and drives him to the Thurman Rose Garden. Once they arrive, it is revealed that the man who has been calling himself "Fenton" is actually Adam, who has been loyal to his father's beliefs since he was a child. However, the real Fenton did end up becoming a serial killer, not to carry on his father's work but simply out of anger at the world over everything he, his father and brother endured and he used the "God's Hand" nickname to taunt Adam, knowing that his brother would have to kill him to fulfill the task their father couldn't. Fenton has been buried in the Rose Garden, along with the "demons" Adam "destroyed" over the years. It is also revealed that all of the "demons" killed by their father were in fact murderers, and when their father touched them, he really had visions of their crimes.
Adam explains that he lured Doyle to the Rose Garden because Doyle was on "God's list". When Adam touches Doyle's hand, he has a vision of Doyle killing his own mother in cold blood. Adam uses Otis to kill Doyle before burying him in the Rose Garden.
A day after Doyle's disappearance, agents at the bureau search for "Fenton Meiks", the man with whom Doyle was last seen leaving the building. Agent Hull (Derk Cheetwood), who met "Fenton" (Adam) the previous night, cannot remember the man's face, and all security footage showing Adam's face has been distorted. The FBI storm the real Fenton Meiks' house, where they find evidence of his murders and Doyle's FBI badge.
The last scene is of Hull visiting the office of the local sheriff, who is revealed to be Adam Meiks, but Hull does not recognize him. Meiks learns from Hull that his brother killed an FBI agent and several others. However, Meiks congratulates Hull on job well done and knows he's a good man. Meiks is also revealed to have a wife, who is pregnant with child.
- Bill Paxton - Dad Meiks
- Matthew McConaughey - Fenton Meiks/Adam Meiks
- Powers Boothe - FBI Agent Wesley Doyle
- Matt O'Leary - Young Fenton
- Jeremy Sumpter - Young Adam
- Luke Askew - Sheriff Smalls
- Levi Kreis - Adam Meiks/Fenton Meiks
- Derk Cheetwood - Agent Griffin Hull
- Missy Crider - Becky Meiks (as Melissa Crider)
- Alan Davidson - Brad White
- Cynthia Ettinger - Cynthia Harbridge
- Vincent Chase - Edward March
- Gwen McGee - Operator
- Edmond Scott Ratliff - The Angel
- Rebecca Tilney - Teacher
Frailty received generally positive reviews from, with a 74% "fresh" rating on movie review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes based on one-hundred-and-thirty-six reviews. Roger Ebert in particular singled it out for praise, giving the film four out of four stars and declaring that "Frailty is an extraordinary work, concealing in its depths not only unexpected story turns but also implications, hidden at first, that make it even deeper and more sad." Bloody Disgusting gave the film an 'Honourable Mention' in their list of the twenty best horror films of the 2000s, calling the film an "underrated gem [...] a small-scale, thought-provoking horror film that deserves a second look."
- "Frailty – Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved September 28, 2012.
- Ebert, Roger (April 12, 2002). "Frailty". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved September 28, 2012.
- "00's Retrospect: Bloody Disgusting's Top 20 Films of the Decade...Part 1". Bloody Disgusting. December 15, 2009. Retrieved September 28, 2012.
- "Frailty (2002) – Box Office Mojo". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved September 28, 2012.
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