For some reason Frailty is the movie that never makes the “10 Scariest Movies” lists even though it’s one of the creepiest and most unsettling flicks I’ve ever seen.
The 2001 movie is mostly billed as a thriller, but it does what all good horror movies do and leaves you wondering what is real, creates a new fear, and ends with a twist you didn’t see coming. For those who haven’t seen it, the plot centers around a single father raising two boys in Texas in the 80’s. The story is told through the eyes of the now grown older brother, Fenton, to an FBI detective as he explains why he believes his younger brother Adam is the serial killer the FBI detective has been profiling. Fenton explains that his upbringing was pretty happy and normal until his dad had a religious experience where he became convinced God was asking him to kill “demons” who look like ordinary people to everyone else.
Bill Paxton stars in the film and also made his (incredible) directorial debut. He intended the movie to be seen multiple times, knowing that viewers would want to watch again after the twist had been revealed to them. Paxton has also said that test audiences walked out during the first scene where he kills a “demon” — a woman in a nurses uniform bound in duct tape:
This is believable because the scene is especially creepy because it’s told from Fenton’s perspective. It’s one thing to have a madmen out there killing someone, but the genius here is making that madman your father. What is more frightening as a child than the only adult you have to depend on going crazy? What would you do if your whole family started doing something you thought was wrong and no one would believe you?
Frailty is a must-watch if you haven’t seen it and fortunately, the hype holds up even if you already have (or if you peeked at the Wikipedia article). I’m putting it at the top of my recommendations for horror movie nights as we head into Halloween season.