The Direct to Video Connoisseur
I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.
Monday, October 17, 2011
Fragile aka Frágiles (2005)
This was a another film that I came in contact with through our friend Francisco at The Film Connoisseur, with whom I am doing a collaboration with for the month of October. We're looking at supernatural films, me from the DTV angle, and while this was released theatrically in foreign markets, it was DTV here in the States. It intrigued me, because it was directed by Jaume Balagueró, the man who directed [Rec], which was the original film on which Quarantine was based; plus, it's starring Calista Flockhart, who we're more used to seeing as the precocious Ally McBeal. Let's see how it turned out.
Fragile takes place on the Isle of Wight, where a children's hospital is set to close, and only a few children remain that need transporting to a new location. Then some bad things happen. A kid's leg is mysteriously broken in two places. Then a nurse quits under dubious circumstances, which is where Calista Flockhart, a nurse with her own skeletons in her closet shows up to take her place. A patient named Maggie warns Calista of a mysterious Charlotte who lives on the abandoned second floor. Flockhart writes it off as a child's overactive imagination, until some crazy stuff starts happening. Now it's her the rest of the staff thinks has the overactive imagination, as she attempts to warn them about the truth in what the girl is saying. Can the evil spirit kill enough people soon enough for everyone to believe Flockhart in time?
I wanted to like this one, and I can see how some might, but it didn't work for me. It's like it's two movies, one part tense, psychological thriller, and one part Bloody Mary style ghost story slasher-- and neither was that remarkable. For instance, I can only hear the same creepy music so much to denote a scene is supposed to be tense. If not for that, the rest of the opening part was really good, especially with Flockhart's performance. On the other hand, breaking a child's limbs is not something I enjoy watching, and though that was a bigger part of the end, it did happen in the beginning, and was disturbing. There were some high points though: I already mentioned Flockhart, and a lot of the other performances were great too; also the scenes, especially in the early going, were really well shot-- no reliance on jumpcuts and kitschy MTV style edits; and the sets were really nice looking. In the end, though, this just becomes like every other nothing-special thriller, only this one didn't make it into American theaters.
Watching Calista Flockhart in this, I wondered why she hadn't done similar films. She has a unique look that suits the dark thriller really well, with her large eyes and small face, she was stunning. Plus, her character was troubled and worn out-- very much the opposite of Ally McBeal. The end of the movie was so all over the place that I couldn't expect her to navigate that, but the earlier parts, which were often more subtle and were where the tougher work as an actress was, was where she was really good. I also didn't know she was married to Harrison Ford. Thank you imdb.
This shot here with the two mirrors made for a great effect, and director Jaume Balagueró went back to it a few times throughout the movie. It was just another area where this movie was better than the bad ghost movies I'm used to seeing in theaters here in the States, but also made it that much worse when this devolved into that. I would've liked to have seen more of this kind of thing, something more Hitchcokian in its tension building. What made Hitchcock so amazing was the way every scene dripped with tension, even the most innocuous ones. This had elements of that, but it's almost like it didn't trust itself, and then it felt the need to throw all of that away and just become every other supernatural thriller on the market.
A few weeks ago I saw Dinner for Schmucks with some friends on ON Demand, and I could've sworn this woman was the one who played Paul Rudd's love interest. Notsomuch apparently. She's Elena Anaya, and the one from the other movie was Stephanie Szostak. Anaya is in the Almodovar movie, The Skin I Live In, which I can't wait to see, and she was in Van Helsing, which also had Richard Roxburgh as Dracula, and he played the doctor in this. We were just missing Hugh Jackman and an exploding carriage and we'd have had a real Van Helsing reunion.
Finally, this movie took place on the Isle of Wight. I had no idea that it was as big or as populated as it was. This is where movies like this are great, because they introduce me to an area of the world I wouldn't have thought to look at, and gave me a reason to look it up on Wikipedia. Before this I only knew of the Isle of Wight as Queen Victoria's Kennebunkport or Crawford Ranch. See, who said low-budget films couldn't be educational? Actually, they aren't, are they? Wikipedia is.
All right, let's wrap this up. You may like this if you're into a lot of the other supernatural flicks that find their way into our theaters, but I don't, so I didn't. It had some great moments, great performances, and some really well-shot scenes; but in the end, it devolved into everything we've already seen.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0422272/