Synopsis – A couple stops at a gas station, where their daughter’s arm is fractured. They hurry to a hospital. Something strange is going on there. The wife and daughter go missing.
My Take – As a parent myself, I can adhere to the fact that losing a child in a crowd in the midst of strangers is one of the biggest fears one can have. And like most fears, filmmakers use them as a tool of storytelling to connect and play with the viewer’s psychology and emotions. This film is no different.
Directed by Brad Anderson, who has helmed both good films like The Machinist, Session 9, Transsiberian, and Beirut, and bad films like Vanishing on 7th Street and Stonehearst Asylum, this one is the latest title on the Netflix and Chills slate, a series of films the streaming service is rolling out in anticipation of Halloween.
While the premise is solid if not that original, it is filled with mind games and a mystery which should keep you guessing until the end. Even though the story has been explored in far more entertaining, campy, funny, and dark ways, it manages to be very entertaining.
However, the biggest question lies regarding the actual ending of the film that is simply if whether you will have guessed what’s going on or not. I will admit that I had guessed a few elements, but definitely not all of it. Nevertheless, this one is a perfect example of a solid film ruined by its ending.
The story follows Ray (Sam Worthington), who along with his wife, Joanne (Lily Rabe) and nine-year-old daughter Peri (Lucy Capri), are on their way back home after spending Thanksgiving with Joanne’s parents, which evidently has not gone well. When they are forced to make a stop at a remote gas station, in a moment of distraction, Peri wanders off to the edge of a construction site, and falls off.
While Ray jumps in an effort to reach her, he too falls, and wakes up from a daze after hitting his head to see Joanne with Peri, who seems to have fractured her arm. The three immediately drive to the nearest hospital, where the on-call Dr. Berthram (Stephen Tobolowsky) issues a scan to which Joanne decides to accompany Peri for, while Ray decides to stay in the waiting room.
After dozing off, Ray wakes up to find that the hospital seems to have no record of Ray’s family checking in or even existing. Taken to his absolute limit, Ray decides to stop at nothing to find his family, all the while fighting against the lies, the truth, and the murky gray in between.
Since this is a Netflix thriller, you’ll know fairly quickly that something strange is going on once Ray beings to experience strange things, and while we don’t know exactly what’s happening, you can’t help but feel for him, which keeps everything interesting. The film keeps you guessing about what and whom you should trust, as everything that you see might not be the true version of events, and you get to see which parts are true, bit by bit.
Those familiar with the genre probably won’t find a lot of surprises in writer Alan B. McElroy’s script. In fact, the film’s various twists and turned are reminiscent of many thrillers from the early 2000s, meaning most audiences and those familiar with director Anderson’s filmography in particular, will have this one pegged in fifteen minutes or less, however, it never stops you from being engaged through its proceedings.
What I loved about the character Ray Monroe, is the fact that we see him as a less than perfect father and husband from the very first scene. He’s struggling with his own demons and his family is very aware of this, making him easily root-able, because in the end aren’t we all flawed in our own ways?
Another thing that works really well is the fact that the doctors at this hospital do seem pretty shady, hence, you can’t blame Ray for acting quite drastically at times. The film majorly takes place in a hospital but it doesn’t feel like a place of healing but rather a place of hidden secrets and nightmares.
Whom do you trust the man with a head injury who seems to be at the center of a conspiracy or a hospital that seems to conveniently have issues with record-keeping? The score and cinematography also work well together to create this foreboding atmosphere.
Just when you feel like you’ve figured out the right side, new information comes to light and shifts everything you know yet again. Well that is until the climax kicks in, which is ultimately the film’s biggest problem. Did it really ruin the film? A mighty yes!
After throwing in a shocking conspiracy, the film throws the viewers right under the bus in its final moments, making the whole experience hazy, unwarranted, and most importantly pretentious. A certain ambiguity could have worked here, but in an effort to wrap everything up, and putting a nice bow on top, the film just leaves you disappointed with its lazy writing, forcing you to question every little incident of the 100 minute long film which leads to the revelation of significant plot holes. A shame considering everything until that point was quite solidly entertaining.
For his part, Sam Worthington proves himself more than capable of pulling off a one-man show. Worthington is compelling in his determination and as he begins to question his grip on reality, we spiral with him, swimming against the current of accusations thrown his way by the hospital staff.
In supporting roles, Lily Rabe, Adjoa Andoh, Stephen Tobolowsky and Lucy Capri are good. On the whole, ‘Fractured’ is a twisty yet contained thriller which despite many engaging elements leaves you dry with its terrible ending.
Directed – Brad Anderson
Rated – R
Run Time – 100 minutes