Released: 11th October
Seen: 12th October
Sometimes all a film needs is a great concept and that can do most of the work. Sharknado is a great example, the idea is so out there (It’s sharks… in a tornado) that no matter what those films do I can enjoy it because the idea itself is so perfect that I’ll buy it. This can also work with good films, “Killer who kills you in your dreams” gave us Freddy Krueger, “Plant that eats people” gave us Little Shop of Horrors, a good concept can make a film easy to enjoy. So when a concept as perfect and as effective as “Guy checks his daughter into a hospital, hospital pretends she never checked in” comes across I was ready to love it because that idea has so much potential… shame Fractured wasted so much of it.
When Ray Monroe (Sam Worthington), his wife Joanne (Lily Rabe) and daughter Peri (Lucy Capri) are making a cross country drive home after thanksgiving, they end up stopping at a gas station to pick up a few things. At some point, Peri ends up falling into a construction area that, for reasons of plot convenience, isn’t surrounded by a fence to prevent this exact thing from happening. Peri falls and ends up breaking her arm, Ray also fell when he tried to catch her and got a bump on the head. Frantic, Ray and Joanne take Peri to the nearest hospital, where they check her in and after a few issues with the nurses, Peri is taken to get an MRI and since only one parent can go with her, Joanne joins her and Ray goes to wait in the waiting room where he takes a quick nap. When he wakes up he’s told that the records show that he checked in by himself and that the hospital never saw anyone named Peri. Now Ray must try and figure out exactly what happened to his family and what secrets does the hospital hold or is it all just in his head.
At first glance this idea is genuinely intriguing, there are a thousand different ways this story could go and the fun of it is trying to see if you can figure out what’s going to happen… I mean, it would be but by the 30-minute mark I called out what the big reveal at the end would be and I was 100% right, the foreshadowing isn’t subtle. It’s more just explicitly stating what happens and I almost instantly lost all feelings of tension, why should I feel tense when I’m already several steps ahead of the movie? I know how this ends, I worked it out by the obscenely unsubtle clues they slammed into my eyeballs so why keep going? It’s certainly not for the characters because they all just annoyed the hell out of me.
It is absolutely possible to make a film with characters we’re not meant to like or sympathise with, it’s difficult but it can be done. This film is different, we’re supposedto like and sympathise with Ray and his family but I just couldn’t. The wife was irritating, every second she was on screen and Ray is a blank slate who yells at people and acts paranoid. I couldn’t care less about either of them and then there are the doctors who all act suspicious for no reason. OK, to be technical there is a reason that they reveal right at the very end of the movie but it’s a bad reason that honestly makes even less sense because it implies that everyone was acting the way they were but in a different context. It’s all just so convoluted and pretending to be smarter than everyone else when all it’s doing is creating an interesting mystery and solving it with a very stupid twist that makes several other moments in the film nonsensical.
Even though I don’t like the characters, I can’t fault the performers who are doing their best with what they have but it’s just not enough to save the bland characters that they’ve been given. It’s not even interesting visually, it’s not hard to look at but I’m not excited by anything here. It’s a world of various shades of boring and bland surrounding an interesting, albeit poorly thought out, story. It’s a story that’s desperately trying to trick and confuse you right up until the last moment when it reveals what really happened, at which point I found myself looking back over the film and going “No, that literally can’t be the ending, that makes no sense given everything that came before. A good twist should still work if you know it ahead of time and shouldn’t discount anything that came before it. Sure, it should surprise the audience but it should also make sense. Look back to The Perfection, a film that twists and turns every few minutes, and you’ll see a film that pulls off a seemingly random shift but doesn’t ever ruin the narrative that came before it. This film’s twist actively hurts it.
I’ll give Fractured one thing, it’s ambitious. It’s trying so hard to tell an engaging tense story and there is a good chance that in the right mood it might work for some people because there is something there, but it just never quite lands right for me. There’s always something getting in the way of the film hitting its actual potential, from the irritating characters to an uninteresting visual aesthetic to just plain old nonsensical elements that only get more confusing once you know what’s going on, there’s just so much that held this one back. It’s not awful, but it’s not one I’ve got any real desire to rewatch.