Matty puts Adam Gierasch and Jace Anderson’s flawed shocker under the microscope.
Despite its poster making it look like a Vinnie Jones-starring Taken (2008) knock-off, FRACTURED is an interesting but deeply flawed mix of horror and noir from husband and wife filmmaking team Jace Anderson and Adam Gierasch. Beginning their careers penning Spiders (2000), Crocodile (2000), and a few other creature features for seminal schlock house Nu Image (well, until the action-oriented company began belting out bigger budgeted shoot-’em-ups such as The Expendables (2010) and all the Gerard Butler Has Fallen stuff anyway) before tackling Autopsy (2008) and the 2009 Night of the Demons remake on their own, in many ways, Fractured nears masterwork territory. However, thanks to a few glaring missteps, this woozy sideshow falls short of the brilliance it could have been.
What works works. Like Anderson and Gierasch’s immediately preceding flick, After Dark Original Fertile Ground (2011), Fractured is buoyed by a similarly measured and creepily oppressive tone. As director, Gierasch demonstrates a fine touch and expertly conjures an atmosphere that oozes surrealism and disquieting incident. And just as he did with the aforementioned Autopsy and Night of the Demons, Gierasch again proves himself wholly capable when it comes to crafting scenes of claret-soaked mayhem. Sure, his usual party vibe is nixed in favour of brutalism and arty impressionism, but Fractured’s well-constructed bursts of splatter drip with the same sort of in-yer-face swagger. A vicious scalping scene in particular gives William Lustig’s Maniac (1981) and its subsequent overhaul a run for its money.
A visually sumptuous experience, Fractured is strikingly lensed by Scott Wining. Though it would have benefitted from having a bit more of its New Orleans location on show, by and large, Fractured’s textured aesthetic betrays the unmistakable influence of Gierasch and Anderson’s mentors Dario Argento and Tobe Hooper: the two all-time great fright stylists who brought their scripts for Mother of Tears (2007), and Crocodile, Toolbox Murders (2004), and Mortuary (2005) to life, respectively. And in terms of Fractured’s thematic inspirations, Hellraiser (1987), Angel Heart (1987), and Jacob’s Ladder (1990) are all very obvious touchstones — and, sadly, it’s here where the film falters.
While those bone-chilling morality plays are anchored by a fascinating central character and compelling central performance, Fractured is lumbered with the dreary Dylan (Smallville’s Callum Blue) instead. Plagued by waking nightmares and bizarre time-shifts, Dylan journeys into the dark side of the Big Easy three years after coming out of a coma with no recollection of who he really is. It’s a delicious premise squandered by the fact that neither Dylan nor Blue are that interesting. Gierasch and Anderson gamely pile on the mystery and the effective philosophical symbolism but their lead is sketched so thinly that it’s impossible to give two proverbials about his past, present or future. The ‘yeah so?’ feeling is exacerbated by Blue’s equally tedious interpretation; he barely shifts from furrow browed bewilderment, even when his character’s anus is penetrated by the spit-covered fingers of a drunken harlot in a fruity sex scene.
Of all people, it’s Jones who saves the day. Gierasch actually manages to coax something of a turn from the man who, as an actor, generally makes Danny Dyer look like Gene Hackman. His role as Fractured’s villain, a cockney fackin’ ‘ardman called Quincy, might not be too much of a stretch for the, erm, cockney fackin’ ‘ardman, but it’s delivered with conviction and he provides a welcome counterpoint to the wince-inducing Blue.
Also known as ‘Schism’.
USA ● 2013 ● Horror ● 87mins
Callum Blue, Vinnie Jones, Ashlynn Yennie ● Dir. Adam Gierasch ● Wri. Jace Anderson & Adam Gierasch
Follow Matty on Twitter @mattybudrewicz