Frailty – USA, Germany, 2001 – reviews

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‘No soul is safe’

Frailty is a 2001 American-German-Italian psychological horror feature film, directed by and starring Bill Paxton (his directorial debut), and co-starring Matthew McConaughey.

Frailty

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.

Feeling divinely justified in committing a series of axe murders he urges his two young sons to assist him in the killings–a living nightmare recalled in flashback by one of the now-adult sons (Matthew McConaughey) to the FBI agent (Powers Boothe) who is investigating the murders.

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Fenton Meiks 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. As punishment for his initial disbelief, he demands Fenton dig a root cellar. 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…

Reviews [click links to read more]:

“Religious thrillers are hard to pull off. The Ninth Gate and End of Days were hardly what one would consider powerful movies. Instead of being driven by effects and action, Frailty holds your attention with utter disbelief. You can accept what is happening, but do you want to?” Gator MacReady, Eye for Film

“A resoundingly old-fashioned and well-crafted study of evil infecting an American family, Frailty moves from strength to strength on its deceptive narrative course. Though Brent Hanley’s script feels like it’s based on an account of white Anglo-Saxon serial killers run amok in middle America, it’s a genuine invention…” Robert Koehler, Variety

“Paxton did really well with his directorial debut, and I wholeheartedly recommend it. By focusing on three main characters, he has created a taut thriller that doesn’t rely on various red herrings to keep you interested. Though there are a few places where we can tell this is his first film, Paxton creates a thriller that digs deeper than many horror films that came before or after it.” Justin Goble, Classic Horror

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Buy Frailty + Saw on DVD: Amazon.com

Frailty is not a conventional horror movie, but it doesn’t pull punches. I was never overly scared while watching the film. But something atmospheric about the film’s score, its tone and the musical stings drew me in. What you don’t see in Bill Paxton’s kills is what sets the mood for the movie.” Alison Slowski, Voices from the Balcony

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Cast and characters:

  • 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

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