Old friends Wyatt and Christian bump into each other in New York City. Christian is lonely after his girlfriend left him, so he invites Wyatt to stay at his apartment. He overcompensates for his insecurities (born from being a bullied skinny kid in high school) by working out and being aggressive on the job. Wyatt just left his fiancee. Their friendship looks promising to get them both through a rough patch.
The only problem is Wyatt keeps getting late night phone calls. A voice tells him monsters live among us, and they are waiting for a signal to destroy the world. Wyatt must stay strong and prepare his defenses so he can fight back.
Are Wyatt’s experiences real, or is he losing his mind? It’s pretty clear it’s the latter. I found it interesting the way the voice changes when Wyatt meets new people and his life changes. Christian becomes aware of Wyatt’s illness and stays friends with him. He agrees to take part in Wyatt’s fantasies to show him that once they’re proven wrong, Wyatt will snap out of it and agree to treatment.
It’s a good movie, though it frays at the seams throughout until it feels like it’s falling apart. Christian’s character development is odd at best and often doesn’t seem to make sense. The moments when you’re in Wyatt’s point of view and experiencing the apocalypse are genuinely scary. In the end, the movie wasn’t great, but it didn’t suck, and it certainly had more potential than it realized. It’s a worthwhile film that could have been made stronger with a tighter script and by making it more ambiguous whether Wyatt is ill or what’s happening to him is real. FRAILTY did that brilliantly. Toward that end, they might have told the whole film from Wyatt’s point of view and left you guessing. Or they could have gone the other way–tell the story completely from Christian’s point of view and make it about a man who wants to do right by his friend such that he plunges into the fantasy himself.
One thing about the film really disturbed me, which is the amount of trust Christian puts in Wyatt (regardless of his motivations), who is heavily delusional and potentially homicidal. You can’t reason somebody with mental illness out of a delusion. When I was in college, I temped at an outpatient clinic for a summer, and I asked the resident psychiatrist, “If somebody thinks he’s Jesus, why can’t you quiz him on the Bible, and when he gets it wrong, you can show him in fact he is not Jesus?” She said, “He’d say you have the wrong Bible.” What Wyatt needs is care and probably medication.