Director: Jaume Balagueró
Starring: Calista Flockhart, Richard Roxburgh and Elena Anaya
When an American nurse, Amy (Calista Flockhart), starts a job at a British children’s hospital as night nurse, she gets more than she bargained for… and it isn’t a bigger salary. Not only are there children in the soon to be abandoned hospital, because let’s face it, that would be bad enough, but there is also a menacing presence named Charlotte. Charlotte is possibly an invisible child, which would normally be a good thing, but in this case you’d rather want to keep an eye on the little psychopath. See, Charlotte goes around breaking people’s bones and vibrating their water glasses. Personally I could live with the water-glass-vibrating, but the bone breaking would make me really upset.
Naturally the hospital staff is in denial, with nobody but dear old Amy believing that something strange is afoot. She soon bonds with a little girl called Maggie, an orphaned cystic fibrosis sufferer, who claims that she can communicate with the evil presence using play blocks to spell out words. How adorable. After a series of unexplained events, some involving caretakers spontaneously breaking into pieces and involuntarily leaping out of windows, Amy sets off to discover the identity of Charlotte and evacuate the children from the hospital before they have to be re-assembled like Lego blocks. In between all this she has time to flirt with the night doctor, who doesn’t mind and flirts right back.
Fragile is directed by somewhat acclaimed Spanish director Jaume Balagueró, who was also involved in REC, REC 2, Darkness and The Nameless. While Mr Balagueró certainly has a knack for the creepy, he isn’t known for his extremely original movies, and Fragile is no exception. The movie has some very creepy moments and mostly gets the balance right between what you see and don’t see. This does change near the end, when you practically get money shots of the ghost and it destroys some of the atmosphere. The ending is very predictable, even with the minor twist or two, and I felt the movie could have used a few jump scares, because while it certainly has a creepy atmosphere, it never really translates into an all out shit-your-pants fright fest.
I can recommend Fragile to anybody who enjoys atmospheric supernatural horror movies and who can be scared by physical presences. In other words, if you found something like The Grudge 2 scary, then you’ll probably also find this scarier than I did. I can’t help but draw a parallel with The Orphanage and Session 9, both better and much more original movies, simply because of the setting and subject matter. If you haven’t seen either of those though I’d definitely recommend watching them first. That said Fragile offers some genuine chills and is a competently made ghost story.
I give Fragile 7 frightened children out of 10… and a mechanical girl in this review.