After that dad winds up locking the Fenton in a basement they've dug under their shed to have somewhere to take the demons when they are about to be slain. Dad keeps Fenton there until he's weak from fatigue and starvation and that makes him see the light. When he comes out of the basement he's completely with the plan.
Things are, however, not what they seem. When are they ever?
This is really low-key, up-close and personal horror, told in the tradition of Stephen King centering on the loss of innocence of the very young, Fenton is ten and Adam seven when all this starts. The long flashbacks show corruption at the very central core of these boys' lives when their father goes completely bananas and drags them in to his delusion. Or so it might seem.
Bill Paxton plays the dad with the kind of finesse that actually keeps him from becoming and out-and-out monster. He believes in what he's doing, all the way down to the particulars of using the ax the angel led him too. He is unwavering and he keeps saying “it's for your own good” to Fenton when he punishes him for not believing.
The ending has a major twist that I don't think I should reveal for those interested in watching this movie. It's one of those things that either work on a viewer, or completely miss the mark. It's mostly a question of how much you can go along with the narrative. I think it works well within the premise of the story, but for me personally, the flashback scenes are stronger.
This is Bill Paxton's directorial debut and he does a good job of it, the tendency for actor-cum-directors to focus on the actors performances is always rewarding to watch, because invariably there is a certain depth of character portrayal that makes a movie like this, which is basically Southern Gothic, better than they would have been in the hands of someone focusing on the gore.
Frailty (2001) directed by Bill Paxton who also stars as Dad Meiks. Matthew McConaughey (Fenton/Adam Meiks), Powers Boothe (FBI Agent Wesley Doyle), Matt O'Leary (Young Fenton), Jeremy Sumpter (Young Adam), Luke Askew (Sheriff Smalls), Levi Kreis (Fenton Meiks), Alan Davidson (Brad White), Cynthia Ettinger (Cynthia Harbridge), Vincent Chase (Edward March) and Gwen McGee (Operator).