×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Fragile

"Sometimes it's better not to ask," a character solemnly replies when questioned about what happens at the end of "Fragile." Likewise, it's perhaps better not to ask how this badly written, poorly acted, and drearily predictable shocker secured an out-of-competition slot at Venice.

With:
With: Calista Flockhart, Richard Roxburgh, Elena Anaya, Gemma Jones, Yasmin Murphy, Colin McFarlane, Susie Trayling, Daniel Ortiz. (English dialogue)

“Sometimes it’s better not to ask,” a character solemnly replies when questioned about what happens at the end of “Fragile.” Likewise, it’s perhaps better not to ask how this badly written, poorly acted, and drearily predictable shocker secured an out-of-competition slot at Venice. Spanish-produced pic, starring Calista Flockhart as a nurse in a haunted kids’ hospital in Blighty, reps the second English-language outing for helmer Jaume Balaguero after similarly generic chiller “Darkness.” Sporting bellicose sound design, “Fragile” delivers just enough off-the-shelf scares to satisfy horror fans, and perhaps match or break the roughly $25 million worldwide cume of “Darkness.”

Set on the U.K.’s Isle of Wight, story opens in aging hospital for children, Mercy Falls, whose imminent closure is delayed by the lack of beds at neighboring hospitals due to a recent train crash. When graveyard-shift nurse Susan (Susie Trayling) gets freaked out by one too many bumps in the night and quits, wan American Amy (Flockhart) is hired as her replacement.

Pill-popping Amy is haunted by memories of a patient’s death. Soon, she’s haunted by a more literal ghost who the sick kids on the ward call Charlotte, or “the mechanical girl” (due to her medical-brace attire), and who lives on the hospital’s unoccupied second floor.

Amy befriends plucky cystic fibrosis-sufferer Maggie (Yasmin Murphy), who stands out from the indistinguishable rabble of rugrat patients with hardly any lines.

It eventually transpires that only those about to die can see Charlotte, which spells trouble for both Amy and Maggie. Apparently, Charlotte doesn’t want the kids to leave, and supernaturally breaks bones and worse to keep them there.

Boilerplate midsection sees Amy trying to convince her colleagues — nightshift doc Robert (Richard Roxburgh), dayshift nurse Helen (Elena Anaya), factotum Roy (Colin McFarlane), and hospital administrator Mrs. Folder (Gemma Jones) — that something’s amiss. Scaremongering devices include kids’ letter blocks that spell by themselves.

Apart from using the cinematic equivalent of shouting “boo!” a lot, helmer Balaguero, who co-wrote the script with Jordi Galceran, demonstrates a lack of imagination about how to generate fear. For genre fans, scares will be nothing new, while there’s nothing here to match the psychological depth or physical scares of previous Filmax chiller “The Machinist.”

Flockhart’s perf is monotonous and shrill. More impact is made by supporting players, such as sexy Spaniard Anaya and the forceful young Murphy.

Craft contributions are solid, although lenser Xavi Gimenez, whose desaturated work on “The Machinist” was just right, takes his under-lighting aesthetic to irritating extremes here, making it almost impossible to make out vital clues in one murky scene.

Fragile

Spain

Production: A Filmax Entertainment presentation of a Castelao Prods., Just Films production, in association with Future Films. (International sales: Filmax, Madrid.) Produced by Julio Fernandez, Joan Ginard. Executive producers, Julio Fernandez, Carlos Fernandez. Co-producer, Albert Martinez Martin. Co-executive producers, Antonia Nava, Stephen Margolis. Directed by Jaume Balaguero. Screenplay, Balaguero, Jordi Galceran.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen), Xavi Gimenez; editor, Jaume Marti; music, Roque Bands; production designer, Alain Bainee; costume designer, Patricia Monne; sound (Dolby Digital), Dani Fontrodona. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (non- competing), Sept. 1, 2005. Running time: 101 MIN.

With: With: Calista Flockhart, Richard Roxburgh, Elena Anaya, Gemma Jones, Yasmin Murphy, Colin McFarlane, Susie Trayling, Daniel Ortiz. (English dialogue)

More Film

  • Playwright Mark Medoff author of "Children

    Mark Medoff, 'Children of a Lesser God' Playwright, Dies at 79

    Mark Medoff, the playwright who wrote Tony Award-winning play “Children of a Lesser God,” died Tuesday in Las Cruces, N.M. He was 79. His daughter Jessica Medoff Bunchman posted news of his death on Facebook, and the Las Cruces Sun-News attributed the cause to cancer. “Children of a Lesser God” starred John Rubinstein and Phyllis Frelich [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    Interscope Films Relaunches With Full Slate at Tribeca (EXCLUSIVE)

    The Interscope record label’s interest in film/music crossover isn’t exactly a secret: With hit companion albums for “A Star Is Born,” “Black Panther” and “La La Land,” they’ve seemed to own the soundtrack space at times in recent years. And the company hasn’t completely made a secret of its desire to move into film production. [...]

  • Avengers: Endgame

    'Avengers: Endgame': Fans and Theaters Assemble for Biggest Marvel Movie Ever

    For San Diego resident Shawn Richter, “Avengers: Endgame” is more than the conclusion to a monumental period in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As the West Coast branch chair of Avengers Initiative, a cosplay charity that raises money for causes like the Ronald McDonald House Children’s Charities, the comics of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby are [...]

  • Jillian Bell appears in Brittany Runs

    Amazon's 'Brittany Runs a Marathon' Sets Summer Release

    “Brittany Runs a Marathon” will be rushing to theaters on Aug. 23. Amazon Studios dated the comedy on Wednesday. The pic, starring Jillian Bell (“Rough Night,” “22 Jump Street”), won the audience award at the Sundance Film Festival. The flick follows the titutal Brittany, who decides to run around New York City in order to [...]

  • Lionsgate Hires Lynn Whitney in Marketing

    Lionsgate Hires Former Warner Bros. Exec Lynn Whitney

    Lionsgate announced Wednesday that Lynn Whitney will become head of worldwide paid media, partnerships, promotions and consumer products. Whitney was formerly the executive VP of worldwide media at Warner Bros.   In her new role, Whitney will build out media campaigns for movies like Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron’s romantic comedy “Long Shot.” “I am [...]

  • El silencio de otros

    Film Review: 'The Silence of Others'

    “Forgiven but not forgotten” is a platitude we routinely use to end disputes both petty and grievous, but it’s the reverse outcome — the mass forgetting of crimes and conflicts never truly resolved — that itches away at a post-Franco Spain in “The Silence of Others.” Soberly chronicling the ongoing legal battle of General Franco’s [...]

  • A Womans Work-The NFLs Cheerleader Problem

    Tribeca Documentaries Explore Gender Issues in Sport

    Up until recently, what it meant to be a professional female athlete in a world dominated by men wasn’t an issue that garnered high volumes of public interest, let alone national headlines. But that all changed in October 2017 when stories from the New York Times and the New Yorker detailing sexual allegations and improper [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content