Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Bill Paxton|
|Produced by||David Kirschner|
|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|
|April 12, 2002|
|Box office||$17.4 million|
Frailty is a 2002 American psychological thriller film, directed by and starring Bill Paxton, and co-starring Matthew McConaughey. It marks Paxton's directorial debut. The plot focuses on the strange relationship between two young boys and their fanatically religious, but seemingly-schizophrenic father, who believes that he has been commanded by God to kill demons disguised as people.
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), referred to as Dad.
More than a decade ago, as children, Adam and Fenton lived a bucolic life under the caring attention of Dad. However, one night Dad claims to have had a vision from God that instructs them to find and destroy demons from a list of names provided by an angel to Dad. He's also been provided with special tools: gloves to insulate his hands, a lead pipe to knock the "demons" unconscious, and an ax named "Otis" to "destroy" them. Fenton goes into denial and likens the situation to a bad dream, finding it hard to believe Dad is capable of murder, while Adam wholeheartedly believes Dad to be doing God's work and is keen to help. Dad also tells them that God will protect them from being caught by the authorities and they must keep their activities a strict secret, to be shared by the three of them only.
Soon after, Dad captures his first victim and when he touches her, Dad claims to "see" the sins she has committed before using Otis to "destroy" her. Fenton is horrified but Adam claims he can "see" the woman's sins as well, which leads to Fenton accusing his brother of being brainwashed. The victim is buried outdoors in Thurman Rose Garden, which is adjacent to the Meiks' house.
When Dad kidnaps another victim and orders Fenton to "destroy" him, Fenton flees and informs the town sheriff (Luke Askew). Dad ends up killing the sheriff, blaming Fenton for the act that he believes to be "murder" unlike the previous killings. Dad then tearfully confesses that the angel told him that Fenton is also a demon and must be slain. But Dad has faith in Fenton so he instead locks Fenton in the cellar, thinking that Fenton can be redeemed. After more than a week, Fenton nearly starves to death and is only released when he says he had a "vision of God" and now understands what he needs to do.
Shortly after, Fenton, Adam and Dad track down and capture another "demon". This time, Fenton is given Otis to decapitate the man, but Fenton instead kills Dad with the ax. Fenton then moves to release the captured man, but Adam grabs the ax and slays the "demon", thus completing his father's work as Fenton looks on horrified.
In the present, Agent Doyle is intrigued by Fenton's story 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 and used the "God's Hand" moniker to ensure Adam knew it was him, knowing that his brother Adam would eventually kill him when Fenton's name appeared on the list. Fenton was buried in the Rose Garden, along with the other "demons" Adam "destroyed" over the years. It is also revealed in a flashback that all of the "demons" killed by Dad were in fact guilty of varied crimes and when Dad touched them, he really had visions of their crimes, visions which could also be seen by Adam.
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 violently killing his own mother. Adam then 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, inexplicably cannot remember the man's face and all security footage showing Adam's face has been distorted. The FBI then storm the real Fenton Meiks' house, where they find evidence of Fenton's murders and Doyle's FBI badge, alluding that Doyle could have also been a victim of Fenton.
Shortly after, Hull is seen visiting the office of a Texas sheriff, who is revealed to be Adam Meiks, but Hull does not recognize him. After Adam is briefed by Hull about the recent events, Hull takes his leave. In the last scene, Adam is revealed to probably have a pregnant wife.
- 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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