Starring: Sam Worthington, Lily Rabe and Lucy Capri
Directed by: Brad Anderson
Distributed by: Netflix
Release Date: October 2019
Running Time: 100 mins
Synopsis: After his daughter is injured in an accident at a roadside gas station, Ray Monroe takes her to the nearest hospital for treatment, but when both his wife and daughter disappear overnight from the emergency room, he begins to suspect that the hospital is hiding a dark secret.
Unsettling from the very first moment, Fractured is a curious oddity of a movie that forces the viewer to question the reliability of what they are seeing on-screen. Director Brad Anderson imbues every scene with an otherworldly eeriness that supports the increasing paranoia of the lead protagonist. Lingering shots loaded with menace heighten the tension in this thriller, even before anything horrific takes place. Anderson plays with his audience, keeping them in doubt as to what is real and what is imagined, constantly forcing the viewer to side with or against its central character depending on the current evidence available. There is definitely a David Lynch-esque vibe to this film, drawing tension out from the mundane and giving small-town America a menacing feel.
Sam Worthington is a revelation in this film as troubled husband and father, Ray Monroe. Throughout the film he delivers a tremendous performance as a man driven by guilt, desperation and regret as he tries to locate his missing wife and child. He is simply incredible in the central role, ably carrying the weight of the entire movie on his shoulders. It is simply astonishing to watch him fall to pieces throughout the movie’s running time, and the scene where the psychiatrist attempts to break him gave me goosebumps. Worthington delivers an Oscar-worthy performance in a straight-to-streaming movie, and he is an actor that I hadn’t really paid attention to before. After this, I will definitely check out more of his work!
The supporting cast are also fantastic, managing to play their roles ambiguously enough to give weight to either theory about what happened to Ray’s wife and child. Did they leave him behind at the hospital, or is there a sinister organ harvesting operation taking place in the basement? Stephen Tobolowsky, Adjoa Andoh and Chad Bruce are brilliant as the hospital staff attempting to persuade Ray that there is nothing sinister about their hospital, whilst fuelling his paranoia. I’ll have to admit that I flip-flopped on my theory about what happened to Ray’s family multiple times throughout the film as the evidence shifted to support different scenarios.
While I did guess the ending ahead of time, I was still impressed with the way the film offered up plausible alternative options that kept me on my toes. I kept throwing out plenty of theories out there (to my wife’s annoyance) so naturally one of them had to be right, but the film definitely has the potential to blindside viewers. I won’t spoil the ending here, but it is done brilliantly and the numerous twists and turns before the grand reveal are pitch-perfect. There is also a definitive answer to the mystery, which is a relief as some films in this genre try to be oblique and offer open-endings.
At just over an hour and a half long, Fractured is a well-paced movie that keeps the viewer engaged from the outset. While the central mystery is enough to enthrall, I found myself in awe at the level of depth given to the lead character and how his marriage problems, his alcoholism and his guilt over his first wife’s death combined to create this flawed individual who was determined to fix all of the wrongs in his life. That desperation comes through in every second of Worthington’s moments on-screen, making his gradual unravelling all the more painful to watch. It is one of those films that rewards a second watch to fully appreciate the subtlety of actor performances and some of the meanings behind those glances. I was blown away by how the film maintained its tense atmosphere in even the most routine of scenes, keeping the viewer on the edge of their seat from the very first second.
Fractured is an intense experience that deserves to be held in the same regard as other iconic mystery-thrillers such as The Sixth Sense and Memento. Director Brad Anderson has crafted a haunting movie that really gets underneath the skin, fuelled by Sam Worthington’s phenomenal performance and the tangled narrative of Alan B. McElroy’s script. Yet another fine example of the high quality seen in Netflix Original movies, Fractured is one of the most atmospheric films I have seen in recent years with more twists and turns that a game of Snake on the Nokia 3310.
Score – ★★★★
Fractured is available exclusively to stream on Netflix.