Fractured (2019) is a psychological thriller film written by Alan B. McElroy and directed by Brad Anderson. It premiered at Fantastic Fest on September 22, 2019 and was released on Netflix on October 11, 2019.
I was excited when I saw this film was going to come to Netflix because my favorite movie is Session 9 (1999), so I am already a big fan of Brad Anderson.
Fractured (2019) follows a man named Ray, who is a former alcoholic. Ray has a wife named Joanne who he doesn't quite connect with any longer and a daughter named Peri. We learn that Ray, Joanne, and Peri are driving back from a Thanksgiving holiday trip to visit with Joanne's parents, which apparently didn't go very well because Joanne's parents do not particularly like or trust Ray. The tension between Ray and Joanne is palpable during the drive back home, yet it is evident they both want things to work out between them.
As Ray and his family get closer to their home, Ray and Joanne discover Peri's musical device (I don't know what it is, but it looks like a janky toy iPod of some sort) has run out of working batteries. Ray decides to stop at a gas station with an attached convenience store to get some refreshments and batteries.
Ray goes into the convenience store and grabs some drinks, whiskey, and batteries. He discovers the cashier refuses to take credit cards, so he gives her cash, but discovers he only has enough for either the drinks and whiskey or the drinks and batteries. He leaves and we do not see what he chose to buy, but when he engages in a conversation with Peri, we discover he chose to buy the whiskey, which is worrisome because he's driving and he's supposed to be many years sober at that point. It is at that moment we realize how very stressed Ray is about his strained marriage and at what lengths he is prepared to soothe himself in order to escape his anxiety and depression.
As the camera pans around the area, we see that there is some construction catty-corner to the convenience store. For some reason, there is an open pit filled with random rebar sticking out everywhere. I mean, if you were looking for a death trap in the area, Ray found it for you.
Anyway, we discover Peri lost one of her toys, and her parents start looking for it as she is visibly upset by its absence. Joanne goes to the bathroom to see if Peri dropped it in on the floor while Ray pours whiskey into his coffee and proceeds to try to get loaded. Fortunately, Ray is an oaf and spills it all over the backseat before he can drink most of it, so everyone is safe (for the moment) from Ray's poor life choices.
Unfortunately, while Ray is being an oaf and trying to clean up the mess he made, Peri has wandered to the death pit. While she is checking the area out, a stray (or feral) dog has spotted Peri and starts walking towards her. Peri begins backing up to the death pit and Ray finally realizes his daughter isn't near him and turns around to see the dog and Peri. Ray tries to scare the dog away with a rock and tells Peri not to back up anymore, but she falls backwards anyway and Ray jumps after her to try to catch her and they both fall. Ray wakes up later (we don't know how much later) to Joanne screaming at him and to Peri laying at the bottom of the pit.
At first, we don't know if Peri is okay, but it turns out she is okay except for a possible broken arm. Ray rushes Peri and Joanne to a local hospital and things seem well...not quite right. The hospital is pretty dark and Ray has a hard time getting anyone to even see his daughter. Also, they are really adamant about organ donation. Even to the point of asking Ray and Joanne to reconsider their stance on organ donation. Nothing says run like some creepy hospital intake person asking you to reconsider organ donation before you are even seen.
The doctor finally examines Peri and orders a CAT scan to make sure Peri doesn't have any kind of dangerous head injury. Since there isn't much room in the CAT scan area, Joanne goes with Peri while Ray stays in the waiting room. However, when he wakes up, he discovers the hospital staff has changed since he slept and no one has heard of his daughter or wife and no one has any record of them being there. Ray is understandably upset and starts trying to figure out what happened to his family in the mysterious hospital.
If You Like This Film, You May Also Like
Session 9 (1999)
The Machinist (2004)
Shutter Island (2010)
Fight Club (1999)
*Discussion contains spoilers
As the movie progresses, we go on a journey with Ray to discover what could have possibly happened to Joanne and Peri. I was sure there could only be two outcomes, that either the hospital was in on some kind of black market organ trade or Ray did something to them and he was an unreliable narrator, much like Gordon in Session 9 (1999). I liked that I was never sure until the end which way it was going to go, just like Session 9 (1999), because I think that is the mark of a good film and good writing.
Anyway, Ray goes through the hospital, talking to as many employees as possible to try to get someone to admit they saw his family and knew where they had been taken. The hospital staff deny they ever saw his family, which enrages Ray and makes him even more desperate to figure out what happened. Ray eventually erupts in anger and frustration and the security guard at the hospital detains him and locks him in a room after he attacks hospital staff and is injected with some sort of drug.
Now, I've never been in a situation where I tried to strangle a hospital staff member, but I'm pretty sure they don't just have random filled syringes at the ready to inject into some unruly person. I'm also pretty sure they can't just inject you with a random drug in general. 'Cause you know, it can cause your untimely death and shit, but I'll let it go because Ray might be crazy and you can't control crazy in that situation.
So after Ray gets locked up in a random room (filled with easily accessible random drugs (way to go Mr. Security Guard)), he injects himself with an Epi-pen to wake himself up. Ok, so I have had to inject myself with an Epi-pen and in my experience, it doesn't wake you up or make you feel energized, it just kind of makes you not die. Ray is a badass however, and he injects himself with two Epi-pens.
Two Epi-pen Ray now feels absolutely great and busts out that hospital room like a Silverback Gorilla on PCP. I can't say I felt like that when I had an Epi-pen injected into my thigh. I kind of felt like I got hit in my leg with a baseball bat and that I was glad I wasn't dead. But hey, maybe Ray got a special Epi-pen, who knows? Unfortunately, the security guard spots Ray and chases him out to the parking lot, but Ray has hidden and the security guard goes back in the hospital. Ray leaves the parking lot and spots two police officers heading into the lot. He stops them and tells them the hospital has his family and is lying about their whereabouts.
The police are bewildered by Ray's story, but investigate his claims. They do a thorough investigation, but begin to suspect Ray isn't altogether right in the head as there is really no evidence that his family was ever at the hospital at all. They have Ray speak with a psychiatrist or psychologist and we learn that Ray used to be married before he met Joanne and his former wife died in a car accident. We also learn that his wife was pregnant when she died and it is implied that the accident may have been Ray's fault because he may have been impaired after drinking alcohol.
The psychiatrist or psychologist suggests to the police that it's possible something happened to Ray's family at the construction death trap site and they all head there to look at the area. The police soon find a large blood stain at the bottom of the pit and begin to arrest Ray for murder. Ray looks up and sees the dog and again believes he is not crazy and that the hospital has done something to his family. He locks the hospital staff and police in the convenience store at gunpoint and heads to the hospital to find his family.
He eventually makes it to the basement where he finds...horribly mutilated hollow corpses. Um, okay, they do harvest organs at hospitals, but like, intestines, muscles and bones too? I kind of laughed at what he saw because I was like, they scooped their insides out like you'd scoop out a stuffed pepper. I was like, uh oh Ray, are you experiencing a haaa-loooo-cin-aaayyy-shunn? Stuffed-pepper-people-hallucinations are no fun, especially if you are looking for your family, who may now also be stuffed-pepper-people-patients at the hospital o' doom.
Ray checks another room and sees it's a bunch of doctors in the middle of surgery. He looks closer and sees they are about to cut into his daughter and shoots up the oxygen tank (good going oafy Ray!), rescues Peri just in time and looks to the right to see Joanne in a wheelchair, drugged.
He rescues his family, gets them in the car and drives off, relieved that he saved his family and everything is okay. But wait...we look closer and see Ray has rescued someone else. Some random guy who was in the middle of surgery and is now dying in crazy Ray's backseat. It's really a horrible, unsettling image and it gets even more unsettling when we see Peri and Joanne, dead in the back of the SUV.
We go back to the time when Peri fell in the pit. Ray really did try to rescue her from the dog and he really did fall, but when Peri fell, she immediately died of a head injury. Joanne must have found Peri while Ray was knocked out and began screaming at Ray. Ray had some kind of mental break because of what happened with his first wife and he pushed Joanne to the side, where she fell on a piece of rebar and the whole side of her head went into it. Both deaths were complete accidents and not Ray's fault at all, but he couldn't deal with that kind of loss, so he created a reality where he saved his family and was a hero.
My Thoughts on the Film
I loved that this film was very careful to make sure there were no plot holes and the story made sense the whole time, even with Ray being an unreliable narrator. It really could have gone either way and although I thought it was leaning more towards Ray doing something to his family, I would've liked either ending. Both endings would have been absolutely horrible, but I felt that the ending the writer went with was better because it was so jarring to see Ray abduct a complete stranger and basically kill him in his psychosis. I was prepared to see his family dead either at the construction site death trap or in the back of the SUV, but not an innocent person dying slowly while he sang a creepy song to his hallucinations.
Have you seen this film? Do you like Brad Anderson's work? What did you think of this film if you saw it? Did you like it? Why not? Please share your comments in the comment section below.