Director: Jaume Balaguero.
Writers: Jaume Balaguero and Jordi Galceran.
Fragile is a film from director Jaume Balaguero ([Rec] 2) that was completed in 2005 and distributed in parts of Europe by Filmax International. The film has had a bit of a struggle making its way to North American audiences, but Lightning Entertainment is now distributing the film through Blockbuster-on-demand as of August 6th. The film will have a DVD release September 28th, as part of Fangoria’s 2010 Frightfest. The film stars Calista Flockhart as a night nurse in a haunted hospital where one ghost delights in the torment of tiny tots. Add in some interesting visuals and a sob story involving the torture of a long-dead yet innocent young patient and Fragile unfolds with some tension and some overly long shots of Flockhart looking distressed, or confused – hard to tell.
The film takes place on the Isle of Wight were a hospital is shutting down and transferring the few remaining patients to a more mainland centered infirmary. One long dead nurse makes the transfer a little more problematic as she haunts the halls of floor two. Here, if anyone goes there, people are subjected to greyish, very aged bosoms and shriek attacks, displayed by one spirit who just cannot let go of the physical world.
The cast of fifteen to twenty children are well played as noted by Arrow in the Head “the victims were actually young kids (who can actually act), which jacked up my sympathy level big time.” Their bone fractures and attempts to outrun a demonic nurse will arouse pity on some level and even the characters in the film do their best to save these young lives. However, the film unfolds as a tragedy, especially the ending, and not all of the little characters make their way out of the hospital alive!
One element that stood out in this reviewer’s viewing is that Flockhart is actually over fourty-five years old; yet, in the film, she looks much younger (thirty-something). Thankfully, her acting shows more maturity than her looks and Flockhart adequately performs the ups and downs of an antagonized nurse, who wants nothing more than to resolve a previous loss of a patient. Variety’s Leslie Felperin disagrees “Flockhart’s perf[ormance] is monotonous and shrill,” but the emotionality of a stressed and grieving woman is achieved by Flockhart, to some degree.
Fragile definitely has a European feel as the story unfolds slowly and the ending is not tagged on with a nice, tidy bow. Instead, the feature probes a question in the end as to how the characters will deal with a new life in the afterlife, or how one character will grieve the loss of another tiny tot. Director Balaguero is one of the best horror filmmakers in Spain and in Europe in general and Fragile, while slow to build, is a worthwhile time spent. Prepare for the feature on DVD through Lightning Entertainment next month; then, watch the mayhem unfold!
Acting/believability/characters: 6.5 (solid performances, especially from Colin McFarlane as Roy).
Writing/plot/story: 7 (a somewhat standard haunted house story, with an interesting sub-plot involving a jealous ex-nurse adding horrific delights).
Overall: 6.75 out of 10 (worth watching at least once).
The film’s website:
Fragile Official Site
The film reviewed at Joblo:
Fragile at Joblo
Fragile reviewed at Variety:
Fragile at Variety