Fractured comes to you from the same man who brought us The Machinist, a tense and visceral thriller about memory, grief and the lengths we go to to protect ourselves from trauma.
The same themes make up the foundation of Fractured, with less success. Be warned, we’re about to explain the ending of Fractured so there will be spoilers.
We begin in a car with Ray, his wife Joanne and their daughter Peri on their way to, or back from, Thanksgiving. It’s sort of unclear. It seems like they’ve already been, but later on a character references “heading to Grandma and Grandpa’s for Thanksgiving” so who knows? This is perhaps the biggest mystery in the whole movie.
Anyway, we digress.
They pull over at a gas station, and Ray heads inside to buy batteries for his daughter’s Discman and a soda for his wife. He also buys two little nips of whisky. When the only cash he has can pay for some of the items, he forgoes the batteries.
Once back at the car, his daughter has lost her compact mirror. As he looks for it, Peri wanders off and is startled by a stray dog. Afraid, she backs up over a random empty pit (yep) with a tonne of rebar sticking up out of it that, you know, isn’t cordoned off at all.
To scare the dog Ray throws a rock at it, but he also shocks his daughter enough that she trips backwards and falls into the pit. He jumps in with her to try and save her.
As he rouses from his fall, his daughter groans that her arm is in pain. Jo jumps in with them and together they lift her and take her into the back of the car. Ray drives recklessly to a nearby hospital.
Dr Berthram says he’s worried she may have a subdural haematoma and orders a cat scan. He takes Jo and Peri down to the basement for the scan while Ray waits in the lobby.
He passes out from exhaustion – and his head injury – and when he wakes it’s been hours and there’s no sign of his family. Ray goes to the desk but when he asks after his family there’s no record of them.
Thus begins the longest movie of your life as Ray tries to figure out what happened to them. Boxes of organs for donation are being transported from the hospital at an alarming rate and none of the doctors will believe Ray that his daughter and wife are in there somewhere.
Ray, irate at the lack of help from hospital staff, lashes out and is tranquilised by the doctors. He wakes in a locked room, which he breaks his way out of. He runs to the parking lot and jumps in a dumpster to hide.
The police are called and Ray tells them the story. Believing him, at least provisionally, they go into the hospital with him and ask for Dr Berthram to return to help them get to the bottom of this.
Everyone confirms that Ray did come in, without his family, and was treated for a head injury. The hospital psychiatrist brings Ray, the police and the doctors to the scene of Peri’s accident.
When they arrive they see a pool of blood, far more than could be made from Ray’s head wound, and the smashed compact mirror. In a state of rage, Ray grab’s a cop’s gun and rounds them all up, locking them in a shipping container.
He returns to the hospital, kills a security guard, steals his keys and descends the elevator to the lower level. There, he interrupts surgery that is about to begin on his daughter, Peri.
Ray picks her up from the operating table, and, as a surgeon tries to stop him, he fires the gun, striking a gas pipe. A struggle breaks out and he shoots a lightbulb which ignites the gas and sends out a fireball which knocks the other doctors down.
With Peri in his arms, Ray heads into the hall where he sees Jo in a wheelchair. He places Peri in her lap and flees the hospital, bundling his wife and daughter into the back seat.
And now for the ‘twist’.
As he drives away, the camera pans out to the road through the windscreen, revealing in the rearview mirror a back seat not containing his wife and daughter, but a teenage young man clearly having been ripped from surgery.
The movie then goes through flashbacks in which we see Ray has been hallucinating the whole time. It turns out that what actually happened was that he threw the rock at the dog, which scared his daughter.
Peri tripped backwards and hit her head so hard that she died, bleeding across the concrete.
Jo, understandably upset with Ray’s lack of parental skills, begins to shout at him. He shoves her and she falls over, impaling her head on some rebar. Ray gathers them both and puts their bodies in the trunk of the car, where they remain.
As with The Machinist, Fractured illustrates what the mind is capable of when trying to shield itself from trauma. In the end, Ray imagined taking his wife and daughter to the hospital, as well as the hospital’s conspiracy to kill them and harvest their organs just so he wouldn’t have to live with the guilt of having killed them – accidentally, of course – himself.
Fractured is available on Netflix now.
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