Friday, March 8, 2013

Movie #177: Frailty

Frailty is a horror movie directed by Bill Paxton and starring Paxton, Matthew McConaughey, Powers Boothe, Jeremy Sumpter and Matt O'leary. It's creepy as all hell and very useful if you're going to run a game of Hunter: The Reckoning or Demon: The ???.

The movie opens with a man calling himself Fenton Meeks (McConaughey) entering the office of an FBI agent (Boothe) and claiming that not only is his brother Adam a serial killer called God's Hand, but their father (Paxton) killed several people in 1979 after God instructed him to destroy demons. The rest of the movie wavers between flashbacks of those few months and the current day as Meeks takes the agent out to where his father buried the bodies. Turns out, of course, that it's actually Adam Meeks who's standing there, Fenton Meeks is a serial killer and killed Dad to stop him killing people (sorry, destroying demons), and the FBI agent is a demon what needs destroyin'.

The movie is really skillfully done, because up until the last few moments, you don't have any real reason to suspect that any of this "demon" bullshit is real. The demons are people, they look just like people, and Dad's insistence that their true forms are revealed when he lays hands on them has no basis in fact (likewise, young Adam (Sumpter) insists that he can see the demons, too, but he's enthusiastic about being a superhero for God and no one offers any real evidence). Young Fenton (O'leary) offers the very reasonable opinion that Dad might not be right in the head, and Dad explains that no, you'll come to believe, and locks his son in a cellar for two weeks with no food. This could all be chalked up to about 50 pounds of crazy in a 10 pound sack...

...but then, at the end, the truth is revealed. Adam (McConaughey, remember) really is God's Hand. He destroyed his brother (a demon, who was just killing people at random) and he destroys any demon he's told to. God blinds people to his work, and indeed, FBI agents don't recognize him and videotape gets all blurry when he's around. We see in flashbacks that the people Dad killed were, in fact, murderers (and the "demons" in this movie don't seem to know what they are - Fenton doesn't, at least not at first).

I've occasionally thought that I like to keep that ambiguity, but actually I'm thinking that I like the way it works. If you watch, you note that Adam never lies (though he dodges questions a couple of times), and the scripting is tight and smart and creepy as fuck. If I have any complaint, it's that I'd like to see a little of how Fenton developed, changing from what he was as a young boy to the scared, strung-out looking murderer that Adam destroys.

Oh, and: Fuck God, man. God knows that Fenton is a demon, and is going on to kill people, and he just makes Adam wait until six people die before he sends His Hand to take care of business? Dude. Dick move.

My Grade: A
Rewatch value: Medium

Next up: Freaks