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'Fragile' Movie Review

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating

By

'Fragile' movie poster.
© Phase 4

The Bottom Line

A taut, well-made supernatural chiller.

Pros

  • Genuinely creepy
  • Visually attractive
  • Good cast
  • Effective mystery

Cons

  • Not a terribly original story
  • A little sentimental

Description

  • Starring Calista Flockhart, Yasmin Murphy, Richard Roxburgh, Elena Anaya, Gemma Jones, Colin McFarlane
  • Directed by Jaume Balaguero
  • Rated PG-13 by the MPAA for intense sequences of terror/violence, and some thematic elements.
  • DVD release date: September 28, 2010 (at Blockbuster August 6)

Guide Review - 'Fragile' Movie Review

The Fangoria FrightFest showcases eight independent horror movies that individually might not get the exposure that the Fangoria name brings. One of the films receives a theatrical release (based on a fan vote), and the rest go straight to DVD and video-on-demand.

The Plot

American Amy Nicholls (Calista Flockhart) arrives on England's Isle of Wight to work a temporary gig as the night nurse in the Mercy Falls Children's Hospital. The crumbling hospital is in the midst of closing, with no phone, a skeleton staff and only eight young patients remaining. It's staying open only because the main hospital in the center of the island is full from a recent train accident. Amy has been called in at the last minute because the previous night nurse has suddenly taken ill.

Soon after beginning her rounds, Amy begins to hear strange noises and see visions that make her wonder if little orphan patient Maggie (Yasmin Murphy) is telling the truth about there being a "mechanical" girl named Charlotte who lives on the abandoned second floor. Doing some research, Amy finds out that the previous nurse left not because she was sick, but because she was afraid. Even worse, some of the children are suffering mysterious, spontaneous broken bones that materialize out of nowhere. Maggie tells Amy that Charlotte is to blame.

Of course, none of the adult staff believe in the ghostly legend that has been rumored to haunt the hospital for decades, so it's up to Amy to protect the children from the violent force that seems to get angrier the closer the hospital gets to closing down for good.

The End Result

With The Nameless, Darkness, the REC movies and now Fragile, Spaniard Jaume Balaguero has placed himself at the top of the heap of great horror directors you've never heard of. Fragile -- actually filmed back in 2005 before REC but hung up by the financial troubles of MGM -- is the least edgy of his work, but it still displays Balaguero's artistic eye and ability to build a palpable sense of dread.

Like the underrated Darkness, his only other English-language release, Fragile presents a rich and somewhat twisted ghost story wrapped in dark secrets, children-in-peril urgency and modern gothic trappings. The abandoned hospital is a wonderfully conceived setting -- a bit like Assault on Precinct 13 or the Japanese film Infection -- that provides ample dark corridors, dusty rooms and hidden secrets to rival any traditional haunted mansion.

The story isn't wholly original, but what ghost story is? Thanks to Balaguero's visually striking style, the cast's strong performance and the creepy ghost design, its succeeds in getting under your skin.

The Skinny

  • Acting: B (Engaging, genuine and professional all around.)
  • Direction: B+ (Balaguero has a sharp eye for crafting scares with dark, striking eye candy.)
  • Script: B- (Not terribly original, but generates enough of a mystery to keep you involved.)
  • Gore/Effects: B (Little gore, but the ghostly effects are well done.)
  • Overall: B
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the distributor. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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