Frailty (2002) is the directorial debut from Bill Paxton who also stars. A chilling, edgy horror thriller, it is easy to be disturbed by this film. It follows the story of Fenton Meiks (Matthew McConaughey) as he explains to FBI agent Doyle (Powers Boothe) that the serial killer he seeks is his brother Adam Meiks. Events occur in flashback form as we follow Fenton through his life at age 12 when his loving, religious father (Paxton) reveals to his boys that he has had a divine vision from God: their family has been chosen to destroy demons. Fenton is sceptical of his father’s vision and believes these ‘demons’ are in fact normal people who his father is murdering. But what can he do about it? In the present, is Fenton’s brother Adam now continuing their family’s holy mission? Or is Fenton the only one who hasn’t lost his mind?
Gripping and mysterious from the start, this religious masterpiece will make you think. Plenty of twists and turns keep you engaged all the way through. Although it is a horror film, the gore is mostly implicit as the real terror lies in the suggestions of the plot. Would God really instruct someone to kill? If so, does this make it right? Questions like these surround Frailty as it is very philosophically profound. Paxton does an excellent job as a director, not resorting to explicit violence, language or sexual content to entertain the audience, as many modern horror films do; his message alone is dense enough. Matt O’Leary gives a brilliant performance as 12 year old Fenton, expressing the troubled and tormented mind of his character perfectly.
Not a film for the easily offended Frailty fuses shocks with thrills and horror with philosophy. A must-see for any thriller fan.