It is a peculiar feeling to be chosen by God. To go beyond the veil and have one’s life touched by forces unknown to most men. It is a feeling I am familiar with. It is a feeling explored in Frailty. Bill Paxton did something great here. There is a psychotic religious tendency that is exploited throughout the film. It is the unwavering firmness of spirit that is all too rare these days. It is present here in Frailty, and there is enough subtlety and nuance going on here that it has haunted me for decades.

I know what it is like to have a divine mission from God and to receive special messages. It sounds crazy, but I know it’s true. I think of my great love for poetry as I read in I Corinthians 14:1-2: “Seek eagerly after love. Set your hearts on spiritual gifts—above all, the gift of prophecy. A man who speaks in a tongue is talking not to men but to God. No one understands him, because he utters mysteries in the Spirit.” I have done this for years through poetry. I have felt subtle intelligences weave their way into my consciousness, and my awareness has changed based on these experiences. So in a sense, I am reviewing this film from a perspective not much different from that of the character played by Bill Paxton in this film. I have lived these types of experiences and consider them a part of my life. Real authentic traditional religious practice requires a sense of devotion, self-discipline, and an unwavering sense of right and wrong, something that is completely foreign to most people, especially these days.

The vision of the angel descending from above that occurs when Bill Paxton is working on a car is among the most astonishing cinematic religious moments. I’m amazed that Bill Paxton had this in him, and it’s no surprise to me that screenwriter Brent Hanley barely ever did anything else after this. It’s simply too real. As Bill Paxton says in the film, “God has willed this, and you must obey God.”

Moments of this masterpiece bring to mind Chris Carter’s Millennium, a haunting and unusual short-lived and overlooked TV show that deals directly with demons hiding in human form, true metaphysical evil, and similar themes. They have the same vibe, and they haunt me in a similar way.

One of Bill Paxton’s divine proclamations, “They look like people, but they are not,” reminds me of something I read many years ago in A Separate Reality by Carlos Castaneda, an old favorite of mine. Castaneda was a master of magical thinking, and he wrote masterfully on the nature of awareness and perception. I had to find my old copy of A Separate Reality and flip through it several times to find the following passage,

“Do you mean that some of the people I see in the street are not really people?” I asked, truly bewildered by his statement.

“Some of them are not,” he said emphatically.

His statement seemed preposterous to me, yet I could not seriously conceive of don Juan’s making such a remark purely for effect. I told him it sounded like a science-fiction tale about beings from another planet. He said he did not care how it sounded, but some people in the streets were not people. “Why must you think that every person in a moving crowd is a human being?” he asked with an air of utmost seriousness.

I see this idea subtly manifesting itself in various ways. I still think often about Kyle Odom’s deranged manifesto on alien shapeshifting politicians and how that idea struck a chord with those who dig deeper into the alchemical processing of humanity through the hidden machinations of our spooky twilight world.

It all boils down to this one basic idea. There are some people out there who are not really people. In meme-speak, the proliferation of dialogue surrounding NPCs seems to be the contemporary Internet-savvy way of exploring this idea, since there genuinely are some people with no inner livelihood, no soul, no divine spark in them. Frailty has a divine spark. It is a movie unlike other movies. As Bill Paxton says, “You’ll see, then you’ll believe.”