Fright Fest Review #3: Frailty (2001)

Game over demons, GAME OVER!
Game over demons, GAME OVER!

Subgenre:  Serial Killer

Summary:  A father, believing to have seen a vision from God, tells his boys that it’s their mission to destroy demons – demons that look, sound, and act like regular people.

Review:  Frailty begins with Fenton Meiks (Matthew McConaughey) entering the office of FBI Agent Wesley Doyle (Powers Boothe) and claiming to know the identity of an at-large serial killer.  Meiks elaborates further by telling the story of his childhood, and how his single father (Bill Paxton, who also directed) told him and his brother that it was their God-given mission to destroy earth-dwelling demons.

Though the present-day framing device is well implemented (and sure to delight any True Detective fans), Frailty’s strongest moments are its flashbacks to Fenton’s boyhood.  While Fenton sees his father’s so-called demon slayings for the brutal murders they truly are, his impressionable brother Adam is too young to grasp the evil of his father’s deeds.  The fact the boys’ father believes the murders to be righteous is perhaps the most terrifying aspect of this movie – it’s an all-too-real depiction of the good intentions behind some of mankind’s most unspeakable acts.

The Verdict:  Bill Paxton proves himself to be an adept director as well as a solid actor in this thoughtful and disturbing thriller.  I give it eight demon-destroying daddies out of ten.

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