Directed by Adam Gierasch
Written by Jace Anderson & Adam Gierasch
Starring Callum Blue, Vinnie Jones and Ashlynn Yennie
UK certification 18
Run time 87 minutes
Distributor Warwick Films
Hitting shelves this past Monday, and continuing the last year or so’s trend for something actually not too shabby popping up among the usually naff cavalcade of direct to disc chart chunder, is Fractured. Despite being misleadingly packaged as some sort of Vinnie Jones-starring Taken knock-off (a terrifying prospect if ever there was one), Fractured is, in fact, a diverting if not entirely successful noir-tinged horror thriller from husband and wife filmmaking team Adam Gierasch and Jace Anderson.
Beginning their careers penning dumb but enjoyable D-grade creature features such as Spiders and Rats for production company Nu Image – long before Avi Lerner’s outfit hit paydirt thanks to The Expendables franchise – Gierasch and Anderson are no strangers to cut price genre fare. Making the most of their limited budget, in Fractured (or ‘Schism’ as it was formerly known) the duo have produced their most technically accomplished work to date; with Gierasch’s final transformation from purveyor of raucous schlock to assured left-field fear flick director being particularly impressive.
Like their last film, the After Dark Original Fertile Ground, here Gierasch once again opts for a similarly measured and creepily oppressive tone; with far more effective results than in that good but cliche-ridden offering. In Fractured, Gierasch at times demonstrates a near master’s touch and expertly controls an atmosphere of surreal and disquieting incident. And, just as he did with his earlier Autopsy and Night of the Demons redux, Gierasch once again shows himself more than capable when it comes to scenes of claret-soaked mayhem. Though abandoning the cartoon-like artery splitting of those aforementioned gore-parties in favour of a more brutal, art-like approach, Gierasch’s impish glee is still just as infectious in Fractured’s occasional and incredibly well constructed moments of seductive splatter. A scalping scene in particular could give Franck Khalfoun’s Maniac revamp a run for its money, and it’s easily one of the most horrifying jolt moments of the year.
While it would have benefited from using its New Orleans locale a little more, by and large Fractured is a visually sumptuous experience. Strikingly lensed by DP Scott Wining, its rich, textured aesthetic betrays the undoubted influence of Gierasch’s mentors Dario Argento and Tobe Hooper; the two all-time great horror stylists who brought his and Anderson’s Mother of Tears and Toolbox Murders scripts (amongst others) to life, respectively.
Thematically, Gierasch wears the rest of his inspirations on his sleeve too, with Hellraiser, Angel Heart, Jacob’s Ladder and A History of Violence all serving as narrative touchstones. Sadly, it is here where Fractured falters: While that specific bracket of genre morality play are all anchored by a fascinating central character and performance, Fractured is lumbered with the terminally dreary Dylan instead. Plagued by waking nightmares and bizarre time-shifts, Dylan journeys into the darker side of city life three years after waking from a coma with no idea who he really is; a potentially delicious arc squashed by the fact that Dylan just ain’t that interesting. Gierasch and Anderson gamely pile on the mystery and the effective philosophical symbolism, but sketch Dylan so finely that it’s nigh on impossible to actually give two hoots about his past, present or future; so much so that the film comes dangerously close to full-on derailing because of it. Smallville’s Callum Blue’s take is fittingly just as uninspired – he barely shifts from mild 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, with Gierasch – in a move this critic never actually thought possible – actually coaxing something of a performance from a man who, as an actor, generally makes Danny Dyer look like Gene Hackman. His role as cockney fackin’ ‘ardman Quincy, Fractured’s villain, may not be too much of a stretch for the, erm, cockney fackin’ ‘ardman, but it’s delivered with a damn sight more conviction than the last seven hundred turns in his truly chronic back catalogue. He’s still rubbish, of course, but it’s a welcome burst of sprightly pantomime colour when compared to Blue’s dull Dylan.
Nonetheless, as lacking as Fractured is as a dramatic mystery piece, it’s hard not to recommend it purely because of its remarkable technical prowess and enthralling, nightmare-like presentation. If Gierasch and Anderson had spent more time on their leads characterisation, Fractured could have been a thoughtful modern classic. As it stands, it’s simply a glossy but ultimately hollow B shocker.
6.5 out of 10
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