Frailty is a psychological thriller with supernatural elements from 2002. I watched it last month, and was really amazed at how good it was. It starred Matthew McConaughey and Bill Paxton, and Paxton directed it. Most of the film is in flashbacks, telling the story of two young boys who live with their religious fanatic father (Paxton), who claims to have received messages from an angel about demons and Judgement Day. These messages are telling him that he must destroy demons, who appear in the form of regular people. The family will be "warriors," fighting during "the final battle" on Earth. One son is horrified by his father's insanity and break with reality, while the other son worships him and wants to do "God's work" in "destroying" these demons. The film is framed by the adult version of the skeptical son (McConaughey) telling an FBI agent all of this as the reason why his brother may be the serial killer that they are looking for.
I found the story really haunting, horrifying, and suspenseful, and seeing how easy it could be to believe in messages that could either be real or delusions, and how the father was becoming a serial killer without realizing it, because he saw himself as a "demon hunter" rather than a murderer. Paxton didn't play the role as being "crazy," but as someone who was calm and collected, and saw himself as a hero instead of a madman.
The film stuck with me afterwards, especially as the story revealed itself more at a slow burn that fascinated me. A reviewer described the film as "A resoundingly old-fashioned and well crafted study of evil infecting an American family," and I agree. It wasn't just the horror of the killings or the idea of someone going crazy that scared me, but it was the evil infecting the family that got to me. How it is difficult to accept that a loved one may be going on a dangerously wrong path, and how difficult it is to break away from them or to convince them that they are wrong. The film is a Southern Gothic story, a haunting mystery that I thought about long after the film.