HK and Cult Film News's Fan Box

Monday, July 5, 2010

FRAGILE -- movie review by porfle

[Note: Fangoria magazine has teamed up with Lightning Media and Blockbuster for a series of eight horror/thrillers which will be available exclusively on DVD, VOD, and digital download Sept. 28 under the "Fangoria FrightFest" banner. This film is part of that series.]


While the first half may cause drowsiness, eventually FRAGILE (2005) begins to take effect, with a generous dose of gloomy British atmosphere and enough creepy ingredients to elicit symptoms of restlessness and anxiety in most viewers.

Calista Flockhart stars as Amy Nicholls, the new night nurse at a secluded children's hospital in England.  The hospital is closing down but a train disaster has delayed the evacuation of the young patients to their newer accomodations, and Amy finds herself working in a creepy, decrepit old building whose entire second floor has been mysteriously sealed off completely.  She discovers that some of the children have suffered broken bones for no apparent reason, and one of the girls, a terminal patient named Maggie (Yasmin Murphy), blames this on a malevolent apparition she calls "the mechanical girl", who lives on the second floor.

Amy forms a close bond with Maggie and eventually becomes convinced of the ghostly presence herself.  Venturing up to that spooky second floor in search of answers, she finds evidence of a former patient named Charlotte whose nightmarish experiences in the hospital may be the source of the haunting.  But when she finally convinces her superiors to get the children out of there as soon as possible, it may be too late to save them from the terrible wrath of "the mechanical girl."


Director and co-scripter Jaume Balagueró ([REC]) uses the first half of the film to build up a fair amount of suspense and rainy-day, gothic English mood.  Several of the early scenes have the potential for your usual jump scares, but for the most part Balagueró wisely holds off on these in order to increase our tension for what's to come.  This begins to pay off when the (pretty freakin' awesome-looking) ghostly entity makes its grand entrance late in the film and fulfills our anticipation quite nicely.  I didn't find any of this to be all-out terrifying, but it's definitely very enjoyably unsettling, with a chaotic climax that mixes cool special effects with some cliffhanger excitement. 

Calista Flockhart is impressive in the lead role, enough to actually make me temporarily forget that she was "Ally McBeal."  As Maggie, Yasmin Murphy proves to be quite a talented child actress.  VAN HELSING's "Count Dracula", Richard Roxburgh, does a low-key job as Dr. Marcus, who's skeptical at first but eventually comes around and helps Amy battle the supernatural, while HARRY POTTER regular Gemma Jones is the annoying head nurse Mrs. Folder.  Another VAN HELSING alumnus, Elena Anaya, plays day nurse Helen Perez.  Colin McFarlane, who was Commissioner Loeb in BATMAN BEGINS and THE DARK KNIGHT, is likable as Roy, a kindly orderly who befriends Amy and the children.  I don't think it's giving away too much to reveal that at least one of these characters will die a wickedly OMEN-style death before it's all over.
 

I watched a screener so DVD specs were unavailable, but according to Fangoria.com the extras will consist of "a behind-the-scenes featurette, a look at the creation of the film’s visual FX and the 8 FANGORIA FrightFest trailers."

FRAGILE isn't bash-you-over-the-head, turn-your-guts-inside-out scary, but it should suffice until something more horrible comes along.  That second floor is wonderfully creepy, and "the mechanical girl" is the stuff of nightmares.  The ending may turn some viewers off, but what the hey--it appealed to my sentimental side.


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1 comment:

Fifi said...

By look the cover, this film is so scary..