Movies From the Black Lagoon: Fragile: A Ghost Story

Movies From the Black Lagoon
Fragile: A Ghost Story - 2005, Rated PG-13
By Tom Doty

A half-empty hospital makes for an ideal setting in this chiller that serves up a frightening combo platter of ghostly chills and healthcare scares.
Setting is everything in a supernatural yarn and this film understands that notion. The action is mostly confined to an isolated medical center on the Isle of Wight. Mercy Hospital (drenched in a perpetual rainstorm) is in the midst of closing when a train wreck fills their new facility with so many casualties that a children's ward must remain open in the old building until some of the patients are able to be released. The opening scene finds a young child sustaining a broken leg while being x-rayed for a separate injury. Turns out that the ghost in this flick has a thing for brute force.
Into this situation comes a new nurse with a decidedly shady background. Amy is a bit reserved but the chip on her shoulder was courtesy of a patient dying while in her care. She terms this a mistake but one has to wonder whether she will be able to save these kids. Pretty soon the pikes come together and Amy realizes that the entire ward is in danger from a child who died while being treated at the hospital for a degenerative bone disease 40 years previous.
Before you know it all manner of strange goings on begin to plague the facility. Sheets rise off of beds, elevators creak towards the floor that has been closed down for 40 years, and orderlies are thrown through windows by malevolent forces. Amy finds herself doing some amateur sleuthing (which will remind viewers of a similar formula used in 'Ring") to determine what the ghost wants. Her search reveals a lot of messy things the hospital would just as soon forget ever happened. Will she find redemption for her sins and save the children? Tune in as it's worth finding out.
This is one of the better haunting flicks, which comes as no surprise as Jaume Balaguero directed it. He has been cranking out some excellent fright flicks in his native Madrid (Rec) and finally tries his hand at directing an international cast. He does a splendid job of building the atmosphere and gets good work out of his cast. Calista Flockhart is well cast as Amy. She is not the kind of heroine you expect in one of these as she is clearly in danger of coming apart at the seams from the beginning. The medical stuff is also effective. When Balaguero finally wheels his cameras into the abandoned ward be prepared for eerie shots of outdated medical equipment as well as a few cheap shocks before finally revealing exactly who is haunting the hospital.
"Fangoria Magazine" released this effort and they deserve credit for avoiding splatter cliches and bringing audiences a film that relies on mood and technique. That said there are a few false scares but the film also delivers on the real thing. Mainly it deserves credit for sustaining a creepy mood throughout. The only way to appreciate this kind of flick is to avoid all distractions and see it through in one sitting. You'll thank me for it but don't expect a good night's sleep.
Bets Line: "I've been talking to Charlotte. She is different. She is mechanical."

Tom Doty occasionally emerges from the Lagoon to check his e-mail and to read to children every Wednesday at 10:30am at Borders in Hagerstown. If you'd like to get a message to him, write to: dotyfox@myactv.net.