Fenton (Matthew McConaughey) is telling his life story to Agent Doyle (Powers Boothe) in order to convince him that he knows who a hunted serial killer—his brother Adam—is. Through flashbacks, Fenton reveals that when he and his brother were young children, their father (Bill Paxton, who also directed) began killing people, claiming that God showed him they were demons. Fenton never believed him, but Adam is carrying on the family tradition.
The performances are outstanding, from seasoned actors like McConaughey and Boothe to relative newcomers Matt O’Leary (young Fenton) and Jeremy Sumpter (young Adam). Paxton overdoes it here and there, but he blows me away in the scene when he destroys his first victim; he displays how conflicted he is about killing, even after he sees what the supposed demon did. Dad (his first name is never revealed) is a compelling character. He’s hard to identify with, but he’s still so loving and seems so rational about things. As Fenton puts it, “Sometimes truth defies reason.” All of the characters are likable, and the way the happy family falls apart is especially poignant.
Frailty has a lot of positive associations for me, from my first viewing with my bestie Senta and my favorite ex Ang to each subsequent viewing with treasured horror movie buddies, including my sister Leslie, her boyfriend Kevin, and my husband Andrew. I still crack up every time little goody-two-shoes Adam is teased for putting so many peas on his plate, and he responds, “I sure love peas!” Overall, the movie is clever and not overly predictable. Give it a look if you’re in the mood for southern folks, old-fashioned values, and demon hunting.