Monday, July 29, 2013
Christian Movie Reviews: "Frailty"
Years ago when I was a baby Christian, I was being challenged in my faith by a run of the mill hedonist with pagan inclinations. Hi, if you're reading. One thing that he kept advising me to do was watch the movie "Frailty." I eventually did and thought it was an o.k. movie, and wondered why he had wanted me to watch it, because at that immature stage in my Christian walk I thought the character was somewhat justified in his actions and wasn't sure why he'd wanted me to watch.
Of course I also sort of supported the unjust wars being waged, but I digress.
The movie, for those who haven't seen it, is about a guy (Bill Paxton, the "game over man!" guy from Aliens, or as MST3K called him, former star Bill Paxton) who wakes up one day and sees light reflecting off an angel staue/trophy, has a vision, and "receives a message from God," really an angel. The dad basically gets told that the world is going to end soon, and that his family's mission is to kill people who are actually demons to help save the world. As he explains his mission to the kids, he reveals that the angel called he and his kids "God's hands," and with "magical weapons," they will "fight and destroy demons".
Endowed with ordinary, but somehow "special" gloves, a length of pipe, an axe named "Otis", and a fanatical devotion to his vision, the dad of the family goes on an axe-murder spree killing people who were actually really bad people, in an effort to save the world from the devil and fulfil his mission to rid the world of evil.
As he goes about his mission, he touches people to make sure they are demons, to see their sin, and then he kills them. In disposing of the bodies, the dad says the angel was very specific about how to do it all, and that the bodies were to be buried properly, hinting very subtly or unintentionally that this might be some sort of ritual.
One of his sons though, understandably has some misgivings about this mission and in particular, the killing people part. That makes perfect sense. But because of his doubts, dad suspects he's a demon and locks him up until he sees a vision. This son fakes a vision, then kills dad when it's his turn to destroy a demon.
Years later the "demon son" has become a serial killer trying to get his "holy" brother arrested because holy brother has taken up dad's mantle as demon killer. Holy brother eventually kills demon brother and leads a cop (who is also a murderer) to the site of demon destruction, then kills him. It's revealed at the end that dad and holy brother actually seem to have some sort of supernatural power as video cameras can't identify him and no one recalls his appearance. The film also does a reveal of the evil that the demon folk/Paxton's murder victims had done, which is what was seen when they were touched pre axe murder.
We're left with the impression that the supernatural serial murders, aka, demon destruction was actually God's mission and the dad and holy brother were doing God's work.
At the time, I hadn't thought much about it. After all, the people he killed were child molestors, or other baddies, and figured maybe he had been justified and given a real mission by God in the fictional context of the movie.
In retrospect, I think the reason this "friend" had wanted me to see the movie was to undermine my faith and show me that faith in God is irrational, and can cause people to do crazy things if they think God told them to do it. He perhaps wanted me to see that faith in God brings out fanaticism. Certainly at that time people were using God as an excuse for war, and people often say that God told them to do things. Not to mention the horrors of history like the cruades, inquisition, and so on. On a surface level for those who don't do their homework or understand the Bible, there is that issue to deal with.
It's not unit recently when I was hit with a realization, out of nowhere as I hadn't seen the movie in years.
This realization is that if you view this movie with a Biblical perspective, Bill Paxton's character and his son were being used by a demonic spirit or fallen angel. And it's quite obvious once you realize it.
The Bible admonishes us to:
1 John 4:1 - 3
"1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:
3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already"
Nowhere in this movie does anyone even come close to attemping this. Paxton sees a shiny light, thinks he hears a message from God and off he goes.
However, we should also add a little more check to the above test, because a spirit that doesn't emphasize the Gospel and Christ's deity, humanity, death and resurrection isn't to be trusted. Especially if they coerce one into murder.
Apostle Paul warns:
"But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed."
And we know already that had Paxton's character read his Bible, and examined his mission in light of that, he would have seen that the angel who gave him the message wasn't on the up and up. The angel instructed him that in order to save the world, he had to destroy "demons". In other words, the angel gave him a different Gospel because the world (that is the people of the world) has (have) already been saved by what Christ did. This angel wanted Paxton to add to that or do something else in place of that.
And of course, "the gospel message is simple: "That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15:3, 4).
Anything else beyond that, especially if coming from a supernatural being is not the Gospel.
So although these guys are on a mission, and in fact ridding the world of evil people, they are completely out of God's will. If they had really received a message from God or His angels, they would have preached the Gospel to these "demons" instead of killing them.
Yet another case of Hollywood getting wrong in the supernatural realm, though admittedly they do leave a lot open to the interpretation of the viewer.