Frailty

Cast
Dad: Bill Paxton
Fenton Meiks: Matthew McConaughey
Agent Wesley Doyle: Powers Boothe
Young Fenton Meiks: Matthew O’Leary
Young Adam Meiks: Jeremy Sumpter
Lions Gate Films presents a film directed by Bill Paxton. Written by Brent Hanley. Running time: 100 minutes. Rated R (for violence and some language).

Central Theme
For producer David Kirschner, Frailty raises important questions about the viability of faith in the modern world. “Today, if someone says ‘God spoke to me,’ we think that they’re crazy,” he says. “Yet, the Old Testament is based on God’s conversations with Moses. We want to believe that it happened then, but we can’t accept that it might happen today. That’s what so fascinating about Frailty. It suggests that the impossible is possible.”

Story
A kind and caring father is raising his two sons in a quiet little town when one night he awakens the boys to tell them he’s received a vision from God. The world is coming to an end. It is judgment day. There are demons among us and God has called this family to destroy them. God will provide three weapons (a pipe, an axe and a pair of gloves) and an angel will provide a list of demons. The family mission is to destroy these demons.

From the outset, the older son resists this vision believing his dad is ‘off in the head’, but the younger brother believes his father. One night dad arrives home with his first ‘demon’ and asks the boys to come witness its destruction. Before he axes the woman he lays his hands on her because he says in so doing her demonic sins will be revealed. The younger son claims he sees these revelations of sin and at one point the filmgoer sees the evidence as well.

Years later, a man claiming to be Fenton appears at the FBI’s door ready to tell the family tale and at the same time help solve the unsolved mystery of a local serial murderer known as the ‘God’s hand’ killer. He claims the murderer is his younger brother who has been carrying out the mission of their late father.

The studio describes this as a powerful, provocative and frightening film about faith, lost innocence, and the sometimes-indistinguishable nature of good and evil in the contemporary world. Michael Medved describes Frailty as a direct and cynical assault on religion with another stereotypical portrayal of a fanatic who ‘falls victim to religious delusions that led him to kidnap, slaughter and mutilate a series of unsuspecting strangers, savagely wielding a long-handled ax and worst of all, forces his two young boys, ages 12 and 9, to take part in the killings in order to conform to God’s plan.’ Medved also takes issue with the comparison of this father’s vision and that of Abraham who God calls to sacrifice his own son Isaac. (In the biblical story, Isaac is spared when God provides a lamb to sacrifice, but only after Abraham has indicated a willingness to take his son’s life).

The savvy Christian will sympathize with Medved’s instincts, but will also acknowledge that in the biblical account God does ask Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, so there is a precedent for seemingly irrational requests from God to his servants. Second, we must acknowledge that there are extreme religionists who put absolute faith in their so-called visions from God. Often, in their minds, the weirder the vision is, the better, because only if God asks them to do something truly bizarre can they really prove their faith and trust in God.

The storyline in this film complicates the matter by providing ‘verification’ that something supernatural is going on. The father and one son really do see the evils of their victims revealed. The viewer is likely to reach one of two conclusions. Either God has actually asked this man and these boys to murder people for their sins, in which case God is a murderer and participant in elemental evil, or the father’s religious fanaticism has led him to believe God has commissioned him for such acts, in which case religion is portrayed as a destroyer of life and society instead of a positive contributor to it.

There is a third option available for the discerning viewer who will look to the dark side to explain the supernatural nature of these revelations. The dark side is fully capable of deceitfully presenting itself as God. The movie either intentionally or unwittingly hints that this is precisely what happens in this story. When we first meet the boys, just prior to their dad’s first vision, they are singing a children’s chorus, ‘although the devil doesn’t like it I’ve got joy in my heart.’ Is it possible that the commencement of the visions coincides with the devil’s arrival and their joy is forever gone? Could the evil one be deceiving the father and younger son, convincing them that he is a messenger of God and then persuading them to commit acts that would never originate from the mind or heart of a Holy Father of light and love?

The generational impact of madness and evil is layered into the storyline and plot development in this film Stephen King calls, ‘unique, thought-provoking, edge-of-the-seat entertainment.’

Beliefs num
–There is a God.
–God reveals Himself in visions
–God may call upon humans to do immoral things that actually violate his commandments.
–Human sin indicates a demon presence and is deserving of death.
–The one who doubts these revelations is likely also a demon.
–Resistance to God’s revealed mission is a really bad idea.

Questions Worth Discussing num
–Does God reveal Himself directly to people through dreams and visions?
–Could a vision requiring the killing of other humans be from God?
–How can you test a vision or revelation to see if it is from God or the dark side?

Provocative Quotes byline
–Demons are taking over the world. I can’t kill them all. Promise you’ll take me to the rose garden.
==Fenton to Adam, as adults
–Adam is the God’s hand killer.
==Adult Fenton turning his brother in to the FBI
–I’m here-because I can’t live with what I know anymore.
==Adult Fenton to the FBI
–I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart.
If the devil doesn’t like it he can sit on a tack.
==Young Adam sings to Fenton
–We were happy together until he had that vision from God.
Dad told us he had a vision from God.
An angel came to him and told him the truth of this world.
And gave him a special purpose.
He said the end of the world is coming.
There are demons among us.
We are a family that is chosen by God to save the world.
We can see the demons and nobody else can.
We’ll be given three weapons.
Judgment day is here.
==Adult Fenton telling FBI about dad’s vision
–Maybe you dreamed it.
Maybe you aren’t right in the head
==Young Fenton trying to convince dad that this vision isn’t real
–That’s right — they’ll look like people too.
==Dad to Fenton, who has observed that the names on the list are people not demons
–You made this list up. If we used your list, we’d be killing people. We are only supposed to destroy demons.
==Dad to young Adam, when he makes up his own demon hit list
–Dad made all the demon stuff up, just like Santa Claus.
==Fenton, trying to convince Adam that dad is ‘off his rocker’
–I think we should leave. I don’t want to, but we might have to. Dad is going to kill somebody.
==Fenton, trying to convince Adam to run away
–If I could spare you this I would — but we are God’s servants.
==Dad, when asking Fenton and Adam to witness the destruction of the first demon, a young blonde woman
–When I lay my hand on them, I’ll reveal them for what they really are.
==Dad to boys
–I saw it, Dad
==Young Adam to dad, when he asks if they saw the woman’s sins when he laid hands on her
–Why did God let this happen to me?
God didn’t make this happen. You are not a puppet. God wants you to decide.
==Dialogue on TV kids show about God
–Bold Visions by Brian Moore.
==Book title on dad’s dashboard
–You think nobody saw what you did?
Well God saw it and you can’t escape God’s wrath.
==Dad to old-man demon, after laying hands on him and seeing his sin
–Dad’s a murderer and you help him.
==Young Fenton to Adam
–He’s a demon-slayer!
==Adam responds to Fenton
–You just don’t have any faith and that’s why you can’t see. But we’re going to change all that.
==Dad to Fenton
–I never killed a man before.
I had to protect our mission.
==Dad to Fenton, after encounter with Sheriff
–The angel said you are a demon, but I don’t believe it.
==Dad to Fenton
–There is no God.
==Fenton, after seven days in the pit
–I saw God and I saw my destiny just like dad said I would.
==Fenton’s ominous comments when released from the basement
–It’s not fair. All I get to see is demons and he gets to see God!
==Adam to dad, when he hears what Fenton has said
–I’m ready to fulfill my destiny, Dad.
==Fenton, before his first murder
–God asked dad to destroy him, just like he asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac.
==Adult Fenton to FBI, about dad considering killing his own son
–God will protect me.
==Adam to FBI agent
–God’s will has been served.
==Adam to his wife
–Praise God.
==Adam’s wife, saying the last words in the film

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