When Rebecca and Michael decide to take a weekend getaway and drive into the isolated countryside, they arrive at their cottage unscathed, but Rebecca can't help but feel like someone is watching.
If you mix a little bit of the tension of this year’s mystery/thriller Midnighters (check out my review here) with the character dynamic of 2012’s Sightseers (minus the dark comedy), you might find yourself enjoying the new horror/thriller Fractured.
The film held its US premiere at the 17th Annual Shriekfest Horror/Sci-Fi Film Festival in Los Angeles.
Young couple Michael and Rebecca (Karl Davies and April Pearson; respectively) are on a romantic weekend getaway to their rural home. A flat tire and an odd stop (the attendant is quite strange) at a remote gas station seem to be omens of other things to come. Once at the house, Rebecca enjoys a bath, they have sex and Rebecca’s shoes go missing. Other little things lead Rebecca to believe that they are not alone in the house.
Fractured is one of those films which fiddles with the story’s timeline. Clearly I can’t say too much, without giving away important details. But for the film’s first third, I was definitely intrigued, but quite impatient.
I was all ready to call out the film for its lack of a clear tone and the annoying itch that it never did anything. Nothing happened. And also, it had me wondering, is this a supernatural thriller, perhaps an all-out ghost story? What was going to happen and how should I focus my attentions?
Well, patience is a virtue in this case, and when the second act begins – you’ll find out exactly why things were relatively unclear in the first part of the film.
My husband turned to me at the film’s first reveal with an “I knew it”. I’m never far behind, so within a few seconds, it became clear what was going on. It’s one of those revelations which will immediately draw you back into the story.
In the third act, there is a bit too much repetition – seeing things we’ve already seen. Much of it is good and certainly necessary for the film’s structure, but some of this could have been cut to keep things moving along smoothly.
There are clues in the first portion of the film which will give small tidbits of insight as to what is actually going on – but for the most part, it will be a true revelation.
Even in the beginning of the film, there’s a dark sense of anticipation – and this carries all through the piece. The atmosphere is to die for – if you’ll pardon that pun.
The film is quite violent, and I found all of the special effects make-up to be realistic and disturbing.
As our two leads, Davies and Pearson have a peculiar sort of chemistry. Both deliver great performances, never really letting on what exactly their character’s relationship is or what the intentions of the characters may be. And that’s a delicate line to walk – engaging the audience, but not making it terribly clear who these characters are. You’ll appreciate Pearson’s work particularly – when the film’s secrets come falling down later in the film. Her innocent line deliveries (notably about her missing shoes) suddenly have a fuller, and more intriguing meaning.
In a supporting role is Louisa Lytton as Alva – a good Samaritan who stops to assist Rebecca and Michael on the dark road. Hers is the best work (or perhaps just my favorite) in the entire film. When things become emotional for the character, Lytton lets loose and it’s a sobbing, heartfelt and deeply moving performance. When the waterworks start, Lytton clearly looses herself and we as the audience get to sit back and marvel. And she’s got one of those gravelly voices when steeped in emotion – and that’s always something I love to see in deeper scenes – it adds such authenticity. But we can assume that’s just what she sounds like when she’s crying. Whatever it is, it adds so much to the performance.
Fractured is good writing. All of the little clues mentioned above are just enough to raise eyebrows, perhaps help audience formulate theories – and when the cards come tumbling down, you’ll be pleased with how they do. And all of those call-backs to previous scenes will have you nodding your head in appreciation.
I was quite impressed with the camera work/placement all throughout the film. Two scenes come to mind as “favorites” – and they both center around characters who are clueless about what is happening in the background of the shot. In one – the film flat-out confirms that someone is indeed in the house – as Rebecca silently sips water in the kitchen – someone stands in the hallway behind her.
The other also involves Rebecca. She’s pumping fuel at the gas station – as a figure rushes by just behind her. When you first see that, it’s a quick flash – and you’ll wonder, “what the heck was that?” But as the story continues, you’ll forget about it – until later.
I was also impressed with the editing. When the story turns back around in the timeline and tells us some new information, some new angles on what we already know – it looks seamless. Tricks and story-telling like this are not easy to do, because once the audience knows what you’re up to, they’ll start to pay very close attention. Any misstep will stand out like a sore thumb. Thankfully (and masterfully) the filmmakers make solid choices which leave no dangling threads of doubt that they know what they’re doing.
With strong performances from a compact cast, oodles of dripping tension and some lovely twists and turns – Fractured is a fun mystery thriller. But again – it could use a slight trim to tighten the proceedings up just a tad.
Fractured is still on the festival circuit, and no wider release information is yet available.