Frailty (film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed by Bill Paxton
Produced by David Kirschner
Written by Brent Hanley
Starring Bill Paxton
Matthew McConaughey
Powers Boothe
Matt O'Leary
Jeremy Sumpter
Levi Kreis
Music by Brian Tyler
Cinematography Bill Butler
Edited by Arnold Glassman
David Kirschner Productions
American Entertainment Co.
Cinerenta Medienbeteiligungs KG
Distributed by Lions Gate Films
Release dates
April 12, 2002
Running time
99 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $11 million[2]
Box office $17.4 million[3]

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.


Introducing himself as Fenton Meiks, a man visits FBI Agent Wesley Doyle claiming that his brother Adam is the "God's Hand" serial killer Doyle has been hunting. Meiks says Adam has committed suicide, prompting Fenton to fulfill a promise to bury Adam in a public rose garden in their hometown of Thurman. He begins to tell Doyle about the boys' childhood and suggests that the bodies of the God's Hand victims are buried in that rose garden. Meiks continues telling Doyle his story as the two drive to Thurman.

When the brothers were children, their father told them that he'd been visited by an angel and tasked by God with destroying demons disguised as human beings. He explains that this mission is now the responsibility of the three of them and must be kept secret from all others. The father's modus operandi is to wait for the angel to give him a list of names of those who must be destroyed. He then abducts an individual from the list, takes them to the family home and, with his sons present, touches them, which, he says, grants him a vision of the crimes the demon has committed. He then finishes the victim with an ax and buries the body in the rose garden.

Adam believes in their father's mission and says that he sees the same visions of the demons' crimes that their father sees. Although he initially goes along out of fear, Fenton doesn't believe and is convinced that their father is psychotic who has brainwashed Adam. Eventually, Fenton tries to stop the crimes by telling the local sheriff what has happened. But when the disbelieving sheriff returns Fenton home, the father kills the sheriff.

The father is aggrieved by this, as he draws a distinction between killing a human being and destroying a demon. He blames Fenton for revealing their mission and thus forcing him to kill the sheriff. He further says that the angel has told him that Fenton is a demon too, but instead of killing Fenton, he locks Fenton into a cellar hoping Fenton will have a divine revelation. After countless days, Fenton tells his father that he has indeed seen God and is ready to take his place in the mission.

Upon the next abduction, Fenton is given the ax to deliver the death blow. However, he instead swings it into his father's chest. As Fenton moves to free the hostage, Adam takes up the ax, along with his father's mission, and finishes the victim. The two boys bury the bodies in the rose garden and Fenton asks Adam to bury him in the rose garden should Adam ever decide to "destroy" Fenton.

Having arrived at the rose garden with Doyle, Meiks confesses that he is Adam and that he has destroyed Fenton, who grew up to become the God's Hand serial killer, as a demon. Further flashbacks reveal that those his father abducted had indeed committed horrific crimes and that Adam had shared in his father's visions of those crimes, just as he'd always claimed. When he touches Doyle, a new vision reveals that Doyle had murdered his own mother. Meiks tells a dazed Doyle that Doyle's name was given to him on the list of demons to be destroyed.

Since Adam introduced himself as Fenton at the FBI office, he knows that the investigation of Doyle's disappearance will center on Fenton. The authorities will discover that Fenton was the God's Hand serial killer and conclude that Doyle became one of his victims. Doyle protests that people at the office saw Adam's face, which will give him away. Adam declares that God will protect him and then strikes down Doyle with the ax.

Those who saw Meiks at the FBI office, including Agent Griffin Hull, inexplicably remember nothing about "Fenton" Meiks' appearance. Surveillance videotapes all have a distortion when played that obscures Meiks' face. The investigation then proceeds as Adam had predicted.

Agent Hull visits Enid County Sheriff Adam Meiks to deliver the news about Fenton. On seeing Adam's face, Hull doesn't recognize him. As the two part, they shake hands with no indication of Adam receiving a vision. Having thanked the agent for the visit, Adam tells Hull, "You're a good man".



Frailty received generally positive reviews, with a 73% "Certified Fresh" rating on movie review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes based on 148 reviews.[4] 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."[5] 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."[6]

Box office[edit]

Frailty grossed $13,110,448 at the box office.[7]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]