Fragile is heartbreaking because it really has so much potential. It takes place on the Isle of Wight, and as a part UK, part Spanish production, it has a sort of European sensibility that I appreciate. Calista Flockhart does alright (except for a handful of scenes involving embarrassingly over-acted hysterics). The elements are there, but they fail to coalesce into something more than mediocre.

The premise is familiar enough: an American nurse takes a temporary job at a British hospital slated to be shut down. Spooky stuff happens, this time involving the handful of children still stuck in the wards (they suffer inexplicable broken bones). Flockhart’s character has the requisite dark secret, and the requisite uphill battle to convince the other doctors that there is something supernatural going on (despite the fact that the first scene has a child’s bone break on the operating table as the doctors watch it happen on an X-ray monitor). It’s fairly well-executed, with some decent camera work and solid acting (if a few points of spotty dialogue), but I spent most of the film waiting for the payoff that would make the cliches worthwhile. It never came.

As I’ve said many times now, originality is not necessary for a horror story to succeed. Sadly, there’s nothing to help this film get past the overwhelming sense of already-been-done that permeates it. In fairness to the film, I watched it with my friends Matt and Carlea, and we bantered so much through the film that I missed some of the exposition. Regardless, I wasn’t impressed and doubt I would be on a second viewing. Decent performances by the cast (except the aforementioned Flockhart freakouts) do nothing to save it. And, alas, there are no real scares–although I suppose the filmmakers deserve some credit for a novel ghost design. 75/100.

5 thoughts on ““Fragile”

  1. “Fragile” suffered from an overabundance of simplicity. While it’s true, as you say, that the doctors somehow aren’t convinced something supernatural’s happening after that first scene, for the most part, it feels like every wheel in this film is abundantly greased — when she asks the guy if anyone’s ever talked about Charlotte, he can name several people right off the top of his head; the handsome doctor guy is quickly convinced of the ghostiness, no problem. There’s no resistance or difficulty in her investigation, which makes the sense of risk extremely low. It’s no fun if everything comes easily.

    Also, I watched that movie “The Moth Diaries” today (the one directed by the woman who did “American Pycho”). It wasn’t genius, and it also suffered from a lack of resistance, but it was a rather charming update of some classic Gothic tropes (particularly “Carmilla”), with some novel(-ish) little flourishes.

    • Yeah, that’s a good point. It was very low-stakes–except, you know, for all those kids’ bones getting broken.

      I keep seeing “The Moth Diaries” pop up on Netflix. It looks interesting, but is it scary? It seems like more of a dark drama.

      • It was low stakes for the kids, but not for us, really.

        “The Moth Diaries” is not particularly scary, no. I would call it a supernatural/gothic drama, not a horror film.

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