Horror and religion have a long history of intersecting. Just about every Antichrist, religious apocalypse, and demonic possession movie can be perceived as embracing the Christian faith, albeit in a rather indirect and morbid way. Unfortunately, very few movies with this bent can break away from the three stereotypes above and do something original. Frailty is one of these rare exceptions.
The bulk of the film revolves around an extremely simple but effective premise. A single father (played by Bill Paxton) has a series of what he believes are angelic visions, gifting him with the power to identify “demons” and the responsibility to slay them. He’s upfront about what he’s seen with his children and attempts to include them in his mission. While he wins the youngest boy over to his cause fairly easily, the other is convinced his father is going mad and can do little but watch while the murderous plan rolls along and very human-looking victims are dragged to the basement dug in the family shed.
Given that two of the lead actors are children, the acting is astoundingly good across the board. Matt O’Leary–who plays the older son and serves as the protagonist for the majority of the film–portrays his character’s fear and confusion in such a sensitive, believable way, a viewer can’t help but get engrossed in his plight. And the sometimes over-the-top Paxton turns in a great performance, bringing real sympathy to a very ordinary man stuck in a situation that calls on him to do horrible things.
The only real weakness of the movie is its last few minutes, which altogether destroy the ambiguity that kept the narrative so unsettling. However, the ride getting there is so well-crafted, I can still easily recommend giving Frailty a watch.