We need more directors willing to take risks with films like Get Out.
Heaven protect us from people who believe they can impose their will on us in this world because of what they think they know about the next. "Frailty" is about such a man, a kind and gentle father who is visited by an angel who assigns him to murder demons in human form. We are reminded that Andrea Yates believed she was possessed by Satan and could save her children by drowning them. "Frailty" is as chilling: The father enlists his two sons, who are about 7 and 10, to join him in the murders of victims he brings home.
This is not, you understand, an abusive father. He loves his children. He is only following God's instructions: "This is our job now, son. We've got to do this." When the older son, terrified and convinced his father has gone mad, says he'll report him to the police, his father explains, "If you do that, son, I'll die. The angel was clear on this." The pressure that the children are under is unbearable, and tragic, and warps their entire lives.
"Frailty" is an extraordinary work, concealing in its depths not only unexpected story turns but also implications, hidden at first, that make it even deeper and more sad. It is the first film directed by the actor Bill Paxton, who also plays the father and succeeds in making 'Dad' not a villain but a sincere man lost within his delusions. Matthew McConaughey plays one of his sons as a grown man, and Powers Boothe is the FBI agent who is investigating the "God's Hand" serial murders in Texas when the son comes to him one night, with the body of his brother parked outside in a stolen ambulance.
The movie works in so many different ways that it continues to surprise us right until the end. It begins as a police procedural, seems for a time to be a puzzle like "The Usual Suspects," reveals itself as a domestic terror film, evokes pity as well as horror, and reminded me of "The Rapture," another film about a parent who is willing to sacrifice a child in order to follow the literal instructions of her faith.