Fenton Meiks shows up at the FBI office to tell the investigator that he knows that his brother is the God’s Hand Killer.  He then relates the strange events in his childhood which started when his otherwise sane and loving father wakes him and his brother in the middle of the night to tell them that he’s had a holy vision, and that he must now find demons, who look like people, and kill them.  While Fenton’s younger brother bought into their father’s delusions, Fenton knew better.

A horror film without any jump-scares, Frailty offers an unnerving brand of child abuse.    Dad is no mustache-wearing Machiavellian villain.  He’s a regular Joe who loves his kids, and who just happens to have heard the word of God and been given a mission to kill demons.  Naturally, he wants his kids to happily join in, since it is the word of God, and who wouldn’t want to do God’s will?  So, what is a loving parent to do when one of his children isn’t keen on following God’s orders and chopping people up with an axe?

First rate acting across the board—particularly from “Game-over man” Paxton as the Father with a problem and child actor Matt O’Leary as a son trying to find a way out—and reasonable production values for a mid-budget flick, support a fascinating script that asks some interesting questions about faith while exploring the darkness that religion can bring.   The atmosphere is here for some good midnight chills, but it is the questions and answers the movie suggests that will stick with you.

For much of the film, we watch the horrors that can be visited on a young boy (as well as on all those people who are getting their heads bashed in) by a father who means well.  Evil is rarely done by someone who thinks he is in the wrong, and watching the good man harm not only strangers, but his children, is a painful look into what’s happening all around us in society, but in less obvious ways.  Everyday, religious parents teach their children lies, tell them to ignore scientific truths and intelligent philosophy in favor of blind obedience to an inconstant God.  Often, the cruelty is restrained to fouling the minds of kids, but not always.  Deanna Laney stoned to death her eight and six-year-old sons and permanently injured her eighteen-month-old baby because she believed God wanted her to.  At least Frailty‘s Dad avoided killing his son.

But there is more on display than the hell-on-earth caused by religion in general and Christianity in particular.  Frailty asks: what if none of this has anything to do with insanity?  What if some kind of god does exist and he commands you to do something that you otherwise would see as wrong?  Of course, the Christian should go ahead and carry out the atrocity since right and wrong are determined by God.  The answer here is otherwise.  If there actually is a God, and he talks to you, run as fast and far as you can.  You may not be able to escape, but there is nothing else to do.  If God is looking down on us, the one thing we should all pray for is that he never does anything, never speaks to us, and that no one ever knows it, because he is one sick son-of-a-bitch.