That family man is played by Paxton as a hard-working, caring, and widowed father of two boys, Fenton (Matt O’Leary) and Adam (Jeremy Sumpter). The family has a normal daily routine that it follows for a while until one night when Paxton suddenly wakes up his children in the middle of the night. He tells the boys that he has received a message from God that says he needs to seek out and “destroy” demons. The names of these demons will be provided to him by a sort of guardian angel, and then he must “destroy” them, not kill them. Yes, it is a somewhat outrageous subject matter, but that is also what makes it so frightening because it makes us wonder if people outside of the movies feel these types of influences.
The movie starts with an older Fenton, played by Matthew McConaughey, walking into a police station one night and informing an agent (Powers Boothe) that the “God’s Hand” killer is his brother, Adam. After this point, the movie goes into flashback mode with Paxton, O’Leary, and Sumpter occupying the screen for most of the movie. Paxton gives a strong performance as a desperate father who really isn’t a bad guy; he just believes the visions he is having and the messages he’s receiving. Who are we to say that he is a bad man? If an honest man truly believes he is doing God’s work, does that make him crazy, or does it make God crazy? These are some of the overriding questions that the film asks and they will certainly keep you thinking after the credits roll.
Paxton shows here that he is definitely a versatile talent with some real directorial skill. He has only directed one other film since Frailty but hopefully he plans to add more to his résumé in the not-so-distant future. It would be a shame for this film to be his sole achievement in the director’s chair because it feels like there really is something genuine in his storytelling.
Perhaps the most surprising element of this film is the performances that Paxton gets out of his two child stars, Matt O’Leary and Jeremy Sumpter. They have a lot screen time in this film and if they weren’t up to the task, the whole film could’ve fallen apart. There is also credit due to Bill Paxton because he truly creates such an original film in the genre. It is violent and scary without being gory and it is thought-provoking without being preachy to the audience.
I was completely astounded at how good this film is, and I think most audiences will be too. It was only made for $11 million even though it features some recognizable actors, and it just barely earned more than its budget at the box office. However, as this movie ages, I’m sure that it will grow in terms of its fan base. It is a film that makes all the other ones similar to it pale in comparison.