For his directorial debut, actor Bill Paxton (Vertical Limit, U-571) chose Frailty by Brent Hanley, a horror movie in the true sense of the word. Frailty eschews violent blood and gore. The most violent acts occur just off screen, so the viewer can use his/her imagination to envision what is happening. Horror movies work much better this way, using people's own fear to scare themselves silly. It helps that Hanley wrote a creepy story and Paxton's presence on screen is frightening. The bulk of Frailty is a flashback. FBI Agent Wesley Doyle (Powers Boothe, Men of Honor, A Crime of Passion) is the agent in charge finding the serial killer responsible for the "God's Hands" murders. Fenton Meeks (Matthew McConaughey, The Wedding Planner, U-571) literally walks into Doyle's office and says he knows who the serial killer is.

Meeks believes it is his brother Adam. The story he tells Doyle begins with is father (Paxton). The three grew up in after the death of their mother. Everything seemed normal until "Dad" (yes, that's how it is in the credits) receives a vision from an angel. Dad says this vision commands him to gather weapons to kill demons. These demons look like normal people, but if he lays his hands on them, he can see how evil they truly are. Young Fenton (Matthew O'Leary, Domestic Disturbance) believes his dad is insane, and hopes this is only a phase. It is soon apparent that this is more than a phase. Young Adam (Jeremy Sumper) is much more trusting in Dad. The stuff hits the fan once Dad receives another vision that tells him the name of seven "demons," and Dad begins his mission in earnest, trying to get Fenton to help him.

Most films that employ the use of flashback do not fare well. Frailty works because it is not immediately clear what Dad has to do with the God's Hands murders. Things start to make sense near the end of the movie, when Paxton and Hanley begin tying everything together. Frailty works because of Paxton's work in front of the camera. He is positively scary as Dad, especially when he wields his menacing axe and talks about God. The copious use of religious imagery adds some credence to Dad's possible delusions. Paxton, grabbing the axe in both hands with a wily look into his eyes, sounds even more menacing when justifying his actions as holy. O'Leary's acting consists mostly of reactions to his father's actions. He cannot reconcile his love for his father with the reality of his father's insanity. Frailty's ending is also open to interpretation, giving it a sense of importance, and forcing people to look back on the film and think deeper about what they saw.

Mongoose Rates It: Not Bad.
1 hour, 40 minutes, Rated R for violence and some language.

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