Frailty (2002)



Critic Consensus: Creepy and disturbing, Frailty is well-crafted, low-key horror.

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Actor Bill Paxton made his directorial debut with Frailty. The bulk of the story is told through flashbacks, as a mysterious man (Matthew McConaughey) tells a terrible tale to an FBI agent (Powers Boothe) investigating the "God's Hand" serial killer case. The man grew up in a small town in Texas, where he and his brother lived a bucolic life with their kindhearted widower father (Paxton). One night, the father awakens the two boys, Fenton (Matthew O'Leary) and Adam (Jeremy Sumpter), and tells them he's had a vision, and God has chosen him and his sons to help Him slay demons who walk the earth in human form. He tells the boys they can never tell anyone about this task. Before long, he comes home from work with a list of names that he claims an angel has given to him. He then begins abducting people, bringing them home, one by one, and having the boys watch while he lays his hands on them. After having proven, to his mind, that they are demons and not human, he chops them up with an axe while the boys look on. Young Adam is eager to participate, seeing his family as "kind of like superheroes," while the older Fenton is distraught, believing that his father has lost his mind. He contemplates running away, but is reluctant to leave his little brother behind. Eventually, he goes to the authorities, which results in disaster. As he tells the story, McConaughey takes Boothe out to the public rose garden near his old home, where he claims his brother, the "God's Hand" killer, buried the bodies. Paxton dramatizes the mayhem while leaving almost all of the gore offscreen, and Brent Hanley's script leaves the true motives of several characters unclear until the very end. ~ Josh Ralske, Rovi
R (for violence and some language)
Horror , Mystery & Suspense
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Matthew McConaughey
as Fenton Meiks
Matt O'Leary
as Young Fenton
Jeremy Sumpter
as Young Adam
Powers Boothe
as Agent Wesley Doyle
Levi Kreis
as Adam Meiks
Luke Askew
as Sheriff Smalls
Derk Cheetwood
as Agent Griffin Hull
Alan Davidson
as Brad White
Cynthia Ettinger
as Cynthia Harbridge
Edgar Davis
as FBI Agent No. 2
Vincent Chase
as Edward March
Gwen McGee
as Operator
John Paxton
as Janitor
Blake King
as Eric
Rebecca Tilney
as Teacher
Brad Berryhill
as Teenage Demon
Greg Serano
as FBI Agent No. 1
Edgar L. Davis
as FBI Agent No. 2
Jim Flowers
as FBI Agent No. 3
Lance E. Nichols
as FBI Agent No. 4
Chelsea Blain Butler
as Little Girl
Jennifer Drake
as Teacher's Aid
Betty Gurule
as Doyle's Mother
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Critic Reviews for Frailty

All Critics (148) | Top Critics (37)

Paxton steals the show. And O'Leary more than holds his own again here. Too bad it's in a movie that fails to live up to its potential.

Full Review… | July 30, 2013
Associated Press
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | November 20, 2008
Top Critic

Paxton's first movie as director is better than you might expect. It has a first rate cast, and Bill Butler's camerawork and some deft editing help to crank up the tension.

Full Review… | January 25, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

With an admirably dark first script by Brent Hanley, Paxton, making his directorial feature debut, does strong, measured work.

Full Review… | September 16, 2002
L.A. Weekly
Top Critic

Paxton wins quiet victories here as both star and helmer.

July 20, 2002
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

I love the way that it took chances and really asks you to take these great leaps of faith and pays off.

April 15, 2002
Ebert & Roeper
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Frailty


A man walks into the offices of the FBI and declares that he knows the identity of a high profile serial killer, and sets about convincing the sceptical agent in charge by recounting the events of his life. Until Matthew McConaghey's recent catharsis as to the quality of the projects he becomes involved with, his career was littered with turds but this is far from the worst offender. It's a supernatural thriller in which the childhood victim of a murderous religious zealot tells of how the life of his younger brother and he were turned upside down by their father's "holy mission" which sets the scene for an intriguing story. McConaghey makes a suitably intense and enigmatic lead and his verbal sparring with disbelieving Powers Boothe works well. Unfortunately Bill Paxton's inexperience behind the lens means the pacing is long-winded rather than atmospheric and there are a few instances where the film looks plain amateurish. But the biggest problem is its reliance on the proverbial and extremely obvious "twist ending" which totally undermines what could've been a powerful statement on how blind faith could cause a good man to commit evil deeds, instead making for a hokey X-File. Still, it's far from Matthew's worst moment and is worth a look if you're looking for an off-beat thriller with a supernatural flavour.

xGary Xx
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer



Directors Cat
Directors Cat

Super Reviewer

Sloppy B-movie trying to pass as sophisticated horror. Even though its script is seriously bad and repetitive, Frailty does manage to hold your attention. Actor/director Bill Paxton offers a lackluster performance, but Matt O'Leary, Jeremy Sumpter and Matthew McConaughey make up for that. The film also features some outstanding camerawork and editing, but ultimately fails due to awful writing.

Fernando Rafael Quintero Castañeda
Fernando Rafael Quintero Castañeda

Super Reviewer

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