Set in present day Texas, "Frailty" centers on the FBIs search for a serial killer who calls himself "Gods Hands." McConaughey plays Fenton Meeks, a young man who approaches the lead investigator, one night, claiming he knows the identity of the killer. The FBI agent is curious, but unimpressed until Fenton reveals that the killer is his younger brother Adam. This is a film about faith, family and the end of innocence.
Frailty is a 2002 American psychological thriller film, directed by and starring Bill Paxton, and co-starring Matthew McConaughey. It marks Paxtons directorial debut. The plot focuses on the strange relationship between two young boys and their fanatically religious, but seemingly-schizophrenic father, who believes that he has been commanded by God to kill demons disguised as people.
A man confesses to an FBI agent his family's story of how his religious fanatic father's visions lead to a series of murders to destroy supposed "demons."
Introducing himself as Fenton Meiks, a man visits FBI Agent Wesley Doyle claiming that his brother Adam is the "Gods Hand" serial killer Doyle has been hunting. Meiks 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 Gods Hand victims are buried in that rose garden. Meiks continues telling Doyle his story as the two drive to Thurman.
When the brothers were children, their father told them that hed been visited by an angel and tasked by God with destroying demons disguised as human beings. He explains that this mission is now the responsibility of the three of them and must be kept secret from all others. The fathers 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 fathers mission and says that he sees the same visions of the demons crimes that their father sees. Although he initially goes along out of fear, Fenton doesnt believe and is convinced that their father is psychotic who has brainwashed Adam. Eventually, Fenton tries to stop the crimes by telling the local sheriff what has happened. But when the disbelieving sheriff returns Fenton home, the father kills the sheriff.
The father is aggrieved by this, as he draws a distinction between killing a human being and destroying a demon. He blames Fenton for revealing their mission and thus forcing him to kill the sheriff. He further says that the angel has told him that Fenton is a demon too, but instead of killing Fenton, he locks Fenton into a cellar hoping Fenton will have a divine revelation. After countless days, 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. However, he instead swings it into his fathers chest. As Fenton moves to free the hostage, Adam takes up the ax, along with his fathers mission, and finishes the victim. The two boys bury the bodies in the rose garden and Fenton asks Adam to bury him in the rose garden should Adam ever decide to "destroy" Fenton.
Having arrived at the rose garden with Doyle, Meiks confesses that he is Adam and that he has destroyed Fenton as a demon. Further flashbacks reveal that those his father abducted had indeed committed horrific crimes and that Adam had shared in his fathers visions of those crimes, just as hed always claimed. When he touches Doyle, a new vision reveals that Doyle had murdered his own mother. Meiks tells a dazed Doyle that Doyles name was given to him on the list of demons to be destroyed.
Since Adam introduced himself as Fenton at the FBI office, he knows that the investigation of Doyles disappearance will center on Fenton. The authorities will discover that Fenton was the Gods Hand serial killer and conclude that Doyle became one of his victims. Doyle protests that people at the office saw Adams face, which will give him away. Adam declares that God will protect him and then strikes down Doyle with the ax.
Those who saw Meiks at the FBI office, including Agent Griffin Hull, inexplicably remember nothing about "Fenton" Meiks appearance. Surveillance videotapes all have a distortion when played that obscures Meiks face. The investigation then proceeds as Adam had predicted.
Agent Hull visits Enid County Sheriff Adam Meiks to deliver the news about Fenton. On seeing Adams face, Hull doesnt recognize him. As the two part, they shake hands with no indication of Adam receiving a vision. Having thanked the agent for the visit, Adam tells Hull, "Youre a good man".Bill Paxton - Dad Meiks
Matthew McConaughey - Fenton Meiks/Adam Meiks
Powers Boothe - FBI Agent Wesley Doyle
Matt OLeary - Young Fenton
Jeremy Sumpter - Young Adam
Luke Askew - Sheriff Smalls
Levi Kreis - Adam Meiks/Fenton Meiks
Derk Cheetwood - Agent Griffin Hull
Missy Crider - Becky Meiks (as Melissa Crider)
Alan Davidson - Brad White
Cynthia Ettinger - Cynthia Harbridge
Vincent Chase - Edward March
Gwen McGee - Operator
Edmond Scott Ratliff - The Angel
Rebecca Tilney - Teacher
Frailty received generally positive reviews, with a 73% "Certified Fresh" rating on movie review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes based on 148 reviews. 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." 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."
Frailty grossed $13,110,448 at the box office.