Starring: Bill Paxton, Matt O'Leary, Jeremy Sumpter, Matthew McConaughey Directed by: Bill Paxton

Zombies, vampires, werewolves, cave monsters, demons, ghouls and the like are the typical horror fare.  What's even scarier than that?

Someone with the absolute conviction God speaks to them in a dream and tells them to kill people.  And  even seeks mystically-provided weapons that should be used in carrying out these deeds. Such is the premise of Frailty.

FBI Agent Wesley Doyle (Powers Boothe) receives a visit from a young man (Matthew McConaughey) claiming he has information about the God's Hand Killer (presumably Doyle has been assigned to this serial murderer).  This man, identifying himself as Fenton Meiks, claims his brother Adam is the perpetrator.  He narrates a tale of two young boys in small-town Texas, raised by their widower father (Bill Paxton).  They lived a self-sufficient, quiet life until their father shakes them out of sleep in the middle of the night to announce God has just spoken to him in a dream. This revelation actually includes the whole family – per God, the mission of the three Meiks is to collect three holy weapons to be revealed in the coming days and destroy demons masquerading as humans.

Adam, age 7-ish, embraces the new family enterprise with enthusiasm, while the pre-teen Fenton remains a skeptic.  To his increasing dismay and discomfort, his father soon brings home several items (an axe, gloves and a lead pipe) to carry out the divine mission.  To make matters worse, Fenton's lack of belief in God – much less his father's visions – earns him several punishments the modern perspective might classify as abusive.

Doyle patiently listens to this tale, agreeing to go see the location where Adam's victims are buried.  Fentoncontinues his tale, noting the willingness with which Adam accepts his father's increasingly bizarre revelations – including a list of names of seven demons the Meiks family must destroy.  When their father purchases a utility van and starts bringing home the terrified 'demons,' Fenton cannot hide his revulsion.  Torn between the family he cherishes and his growing horror at their wholehearted belief in this divine mission, Fenton must choose to participate or figure out a way to escape.

Most of the film is spent in the past, centered on the three Meiks and particularly Fenton's dilemma.  I had serious misgivings about this movie before I saw it, but was surprised how much I enjoyed it.  It's not always an easy movie to watch, but definitely rewarding if you like a good thriller.  And the thrills are constantly buried, like mounds of earth covering a grave dug for the Meiks' victims.  You never quite know what demons are on the other side.

If you:

  • Have ever wondered if what some dismiss as insanity was actually truth.
  • Like a movie where the horror comes more from the psychological aspect than visual gore.
  • Like characters with ulterior motives.

Put it in the queue!

If you:

  • Are expecting to spend a lot of time ogling Matthew McConaughey
  • Believe religion alone is an excuse to terrorize people.
  • Don't like movies based on narrated flashbacks.

Don't put it in the queue.

Written by Jennifer Venson