Frailty

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
Frailty Movie Poster Image
Violent and ultimately uneven and unsatisfying.
  • R
  • 2002
  • 100 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 3 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Violence

Multiple grisly murders (mostly offscreen, deranged parent, child locked u.

Sex
Language

Some strong language

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Implied drinking problem

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that many children will be disturbed by the spectacle of a loving father going crazy and becoming a homicidal maniac, and the consequences for the family. There are a number of shocking and tense moments among all the schlock.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 14 year old Written byMr. Boxbox November 8, 2009
A great and really eerie psychological thriller. I love how all the murders are not shown and left to the imagination. This movie contains very dark themes and... Continue reading
Parent of a 12 year old Written bylittleone522 April 7, 2011

Great for adults, Not for kids.

This is a great movie with an awesome twist. My concerns for younger viewers watching this movie is the violence. There are many murders, most of them are off s... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written bySedge April 9, 2008
Teen, 16 years old Written byelissa.nelson98 May 3, 2015

Iffy Thematic Material

The movie itself is not all that gory or violent. However the theme of a deranged father murdering people because he thinks God is telling him to do so could ea... Continue reading

What's the story?

FRAILTY begins with Fenton Meiks, (Matthew McConaughey) a troubled-looking young man, has walking into an FBI office and claiming to know the identity of the serial killer known as "God's Hands." The story unfolds in flashback. Fenton describes growing up with his widower father (Bill Paxton) and younger brother Adam in a generally happy household. Then one night, he gets the boys out of bed to tell them that they're living in the End Times, and God has selected the family to seek out and destroy demons. The demons look like ordinary humans, but Dad knows the difference -- he can see their sins at the moment he dispatches them by touching them with his hands. He uses a divinely selected ax and a lead pipe to perform the actual "destruction" of the demons. Adam, the younger and more pious of the brothers, believes what his father tells him and immediately throws himself into the role of divinely appointed avenger. Fenton, older, keeps his doubts secret until his father actually drags home a bound woman, who he executes in front of his children. Fenton is horrified, but forced to take an increasingly active role in the "demon" hunting. Dad realizes it's difficult for his son to accept his new role in the universe. Nevertheless, as Fenton resists more and more, his father takes increasingly stern action.

Is it any good?

Many great horror movies deal with families, as that is where we are all most sensitive; this uneven film exploits that vulnerability but is ultimately unsatisfying. The genuinely horrifying premise of this film is undercut by its ham-handed writing, which makes the plot even less plausible. The dialogue is full of wooden homilies like "The truth is pretty unbelievable sometimes." The dialogue is unintentionally funny at a number of points, especially when Bill Paxton is carefully delivering exposition on his insane plot. What is supposed to be a chilling matter of fact tone sounds more like a cold reading of the script.

This is not to say that the film is not frightening. The "destructions" are horrifying. The fact that we do not see the worst leaves the graphic details up to our imaginations. The scenes of Fenton locked in the cellar are extremely harrowing. But the most disturbing aspect of the plot is that the murders take place in front of the young sons, and committed by a beloved father. As Alfred Hitchcock said of the death of a child in an early film of his, "It was an abuse of cinematic power." For a film as empty as Frailty, there is simply no excuse.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about both Adam and Fenton's reaction to their father's revelations. What would you do if your father or mother told you they were commanded by God to kill the guilty? An especially troubling aspect of the movie implies that the father's visions are real, and that God has actually selected a number of people to kill specific evildoers with an ax. Families of any faith will want to discuss the difference between the movie's depiction and real-world religion.

Movie details

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