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 date
Nov 7, 2001
Running time
99 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $11 million[2]
Box office $17.4 million[2]

Frailty is a 2001 American psychological thriller-horror 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 father, who believes that he has been commanded by God to kill demons disguised as people.


Fenton Meiks visits FBI Agent Wesley Doyle claiming that his brother Adam is the "God's Hand" serial killer Doyle has been hunting. Fenton 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. Fenton 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.

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 goes along out of fear, Fenton doesn't believe; he is convinced that their father is psychotic and has brainwashed Adam. Eventually, Fenton tries to stop the crimes by telling the local sheriff what has happened. The sheriff visits, and Fenton insists that he search their root cellar. Horrified, the father kills the sheriff.

The father blames Fenton for revealing their mission and thus forcing him to kill the sheriff. He further implies that the angel has told him that Fenton is a demon too, but instead of killing Fenton, he locks Fenton in the root cellar hoping Fenton will have a divine revelation. After countless days of starvation, 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, but kills his father. As Fenton moves to free the hostage, Adam takes up the ax and finishes the victim. The two boys bury the bodies in the rose garden. Fenton asks Adam to bury him in the rose garden, too, should Adam ever decide to "destroy" Fenton.

Doyle is puzzled by his phrasing. "Fenton" then reveals to Doyle that he is Adam and that he has destroyed Fenton, who grew up to become the God's Hand serial killer. 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 (whereas Fenton did not; as such, Adam always feared that Fenton was a demon). When "Fenton"/Adam touches Doyle, a new vision reveals that Doyle had murdered his own mother. "Fenton"/Adam tells a dazed Doyle that Doyle's name was given to him on the list of demons to be destroyed. Doyle tries to protect himself by reminding "Fenton"/Adam that people at the office saw him, but "Fenton"/Adam just declares that God will protect him, then strikes down Doyle with the ax.

Those who saw "Fenton"/Adam at the FBI office inexplicably remember nothing about "Fenton"/Adam Meiks's appearance. The surveillance videotapes showing "Fenton"/Adam's face are all distorted. The investigation then proceeds as "Fenton"/Adam predicted: FBI agents raid the real Fenton's home and discover evidence of his crimes, as well Agent Doyle's badge (which was planted by "Fenton"/Adam).

Agent Hull visits Enid County Sheriff -- Adam Meiks -- to deliver the news about Fenton. Agent Hull doesn't recognize "Fenton"/Adam, even though they previously met face-to-face and shook hands. Shaking Hull's hand before he takes his leave, Adam tells him he's "a good man," indicating he's seen that Hull has not committed any crimes. He departs, Adam telling his pregnant wife that "God's will has been served."



Frailty received generally positive reviews, with a 73% "Certified Fresh" rating on movie review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes based on 148 reviews.[3] 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."[4] 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."[5] However, there are negative remarks on the performance, which was criticised by Nell Minow as "a cold reading of the script",[6] while one particular plot that the murders take place in front of the young sons and committed by a beloved father is considered "disturbing" and "an abuse of cinematic power."[6]

Box office

Frailty grossed $13,110,448 at the box office in North America, and $4,312,582 at foreign theaters, for a worldwide total of $17,423,030.[2]

See also


  1. ^ "Frailty". 
  2. ^ a b c "Frailty (2002) – Box Office Mojo". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved February 28, 2016. Information courtesy of Box Office Mojo. Used with permission. 
  3. ^ "Frailty – Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved September 28, 2012. 
  4. ^ Ebert, Roger (April 12, 2002). "Frailty". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved September 28, 2012. 
  5. ^ "00's Retrospect: Bloody Disgusting's Top 20 Films of the Decade...Part 1". Bloody Disgusting. December 15, 2009. Retrieved September 28, 2012. 
  6. ^ a b Minow, Nell. "Frailty - Movie Review". Retrieved 2016-11-12 – via 

External links

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