Film review: Frágiles [Fragile] (2005), directed by Jaume Balagueró
Set on the Isle of Wight, Fragile takes place at Mercy Falls, a creepy old children’s hospital that’s in the process of being shut down due to budget cuts. Only a few children remain, waiting to be transferred.
One of the patients falls on the floor one night, breaking his leg. When he’s taken for an X-ray, nurse Susan (Susie Trayling) and doctor Robert Marcus (Richard Roxburgh) witness his other leg getting broken by an unknown force. Susan quits, too frightened to remain. In her place a nurse – Amy Nicholls (Calista Flockhart) – with a Murky Past™ comes, and she quickly becomes unsettled.
Sure, the night shift is a bit creepy, but she gets a good connection with one of the children, Maggie (Yasmin Murphy), who talks about Seeing Someone: “the mechanical girl”. Is a former patient haunting the hospital? And why are the poltergeist phenomena so intent on hurting the remaining people? Things go bump in the night, and what’s on the second floor? And why has it been shut off since the 1950s?
Also starring Elena Anaya as nurse Helen Perez, Gemma Jones as Mrs or Dr Folder, and Colin McFarlane as Roy.
This film is very nearly perfect. I like a good horror film. That is, a horror film that is actually genuinely scary without being silly. I enjoy films about ghosts and evil spirits and that sort of thing, but they very often get so over-the-top and played for cheap thrills that all that’s scary just goes out of them. Especially when they show the thing we’re supposed to be scared of. With horror films, less is more! The unknown is scarier than the known, and showing the baddie means a film can go from scary to silly in a moment.
Like this film.
Again: it’s very nearly perfect. Creepy old hospital that’s nearly deserted except for one last room of patients, middle of the night, unexplained events, a spirit out to harm, desolate location … I was nearly hiding behind a cushion, revelling in the wonderful eeriness. It was scary! And then, they find out what, or rather who, is going bump in the night.
This would not be a problem, if they didn’t insist on showing the baddie all the friggin’ time after that. If they hadn’t, it would have been much scarier, or at least it would have kept the scariness up. Because they had such a right old feast of showing the baddie, it just became silly.
But up until that point, I really enjoyed it. Best horror I’ve seen in quite some time. Very atmospheric.
4 out of 5 film projectors.