Frailty (2001)

frailty poster 2001 movie
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 8/10

Well crafted story

So-so acting

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Frailty

Studio:  David Kirschner Productions

Genre(s):  Horror/Mystery/Suspense

Release Date(s):  November 17, 2001 (Deep Ellum Film Festival)

MPAA Rating:  R


So…want to hear a story?

Agent Wesley Doyle (Powers Boothe) has been given a gift. A man calling himself Fenton Meiks (Matthew McConaughey) has come into the office of the FBI and tells him that he knows the identity of the God’s Hand Killer…and that it is his brother Adam (Levi Kreis. Doyle will hear a tale that began in 1979 and involves a father (Bill Paxton) who began to see angels who revealed to him the battle between good and evil had begun. Given a mythic axe, a pipe, and gloves, Mr. Meiks inducted his children Adam and Fenton into the faith.  Fenton wasn’t buying his father’s story and set out to stop his father as the bodies of the “demons” began to pile up.

Directed by its star Bill Paxton, Frailty was sleeper film when it was first released. The small movie was rather well received and quickly gained a cult following which included Stephen King, James Cameron, and Sam Raimi.  The movie’s story was based (loosely) on Joseph Kallinger who killed with his thirteen year old son in New Jersey (under God’s orders).


A family that kills together, stays together

Frailty had really good word of mouth. I have to say this is an odd movie both in style and writing. When I saw Frailty I watched the film and found myself guessing the twists before they happened, but the movie still does a good job surprising.

The script for the movie is rather smart and does hold up for at least two viewing. As with most films with a big twist, the movie needs to be watched again. The story’s clever writing drops a lot of hints and winks to viewers who know where the story is going, and it is strong enough that it might take even more than two trips through the movie to see them all. The plot of the movie might really work but some of the dialogue is awful…but partially due to the actors.


I’m more weirded out by this angel than the demons…

Frailty sometimes struggles in the performances. I realize that it is a story that is being retold (so the past events are allowed to be a little wooden in theory), but Paxton and both boys just seem to be reading lines. The script does a nice job trying to make it set in the past, but the scenes from the past are hindered by the weaker acting. The portions with Boothe and McConaughey however are some of the stronger parts of the film.

Visually, the movie also is rather cheap looking. It is shot in a very simple manner that appears to be more due to the low budget of the film instead of intentional. The sets look like sets and the style of the film just is a bit dry for an interesting story.


I’m a hostage of a psychopath…and my make-up is running…not a good day!

*****Spoiler Alert***** Frailty can’t really be talked about without talking about the trick ending. Throughout the movie, we’re to assume that we’re hearing Fenton, but then it is flipped that we are hearing Adam. It is also revealed that everything is a set-up and Doyle was targeted for the murder of his mother (making Adam’s list). Fenton was the God’s Hand Killer and dispatched by Adam, and the visions by his father were real and not just imagination. This is clever, but it also was one of those things where I think most of the audience was a little farther ahead of the film than the writers hoped. I remember thinking around the second “demon” (the pedophile) that it probably was all real…It could be intentional in that mysteries are something that should be solvable (in my opinion) so the reader or audience feels “smart”. Frailty definitely makes you feel smart in that most probably can guess the ending before the big reveal.

Frailty is an enjoyable movie that can be watched more than once. I do recommend seeing it if you’ve never seen it, and if you saw it when it first came out, watch it again. There are better acted movies with better looking visuals, but I give Frailty thumbs up for its attempts to surprise the audience in a post-The Sixth Sense which started the whole twist ending over again.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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