Fragile (2005)

FragileMercy Falls is an old hospital that’s about to get closed down, but due to a horrible train accident the main hospital, St. James’s, can’t take in any more patients. Thus, Mercy Falls will need to stay partly open for a while more, keeping some of their patients there and the children located in the children’s ward. One of these children is Maggie, a little girl suffering from cystic fibrosis. She is terrified of “Charlotte”, someone she claims to see. One of the new nurses, Amy Nicholls, bonds with Maggie as they have something in common: they’re both orphans. Maggie confides in Amy, telling her about this Charlotte character which Amy later finds out is some kind of urban legend at the hospital, where several children have claimed to see her over the past two decades. When Amy starts looking even further into the mystery about Charlotte, she discovers that all the other children who claimed to have seen Charlotte are deceased, and she fears that Maggie might be next.


Fragile (aka Frágiles) is a supernatural horror film from 2005, directed by Jaume Balagueró (who is most known for the two first REC movies). He came up with the idea for this film after seeing an old photo of a little girl suffering from Osteogenesis Imperfecta, a horrible disease where bones are easily fractured, also known as “brittle bone disease”.


Fragile is going in a well trodden path, but the savoring points of the film is the atmosphere from the old, gloomy hospital where the Bearwood College in Berkshire, England, was used for the exterior shots. There’s certainly a fair amount of good old-fashioned gothic atmosphere, tinged with mystery. The story unfolds slowly, where you’re being introduced to the main character Amy Nicholls (Calista Flockhart), various nurses and the sick children in the hospital. Since the plot starts with knowing that the hospital is about to be completely abandoned, but having to postpone it for the children due to the full main hospital after the train accident, you get a feeling of the characters being in an even more isolated and threatening situation. And of course, there’s the abandoned floor where we know something terrible happened. It’s all a nice recipe for a solid, albeit not especially strong, ghost story. Its suspenseful, atmospheric, and quite decent.


The ghost here, though…well, she’s something that looks more like she came from a Hellraiser movie and wandered into the wrong set. While there are certainly a lot of horror movies where the ghosts appear a bit over-the-top malformed (like for example the Insidious franchise), she does feel a little bit misplaced here amongst the otherwise traditional gothic elements. Then again, this does make her first full appearance an unexpected surprise. The scenes when she is more obscured works a lot better though than the ones where we see her full on, but overall we don’t really get to see all that much of her.


There’s a scene where the children are watching an animated “Sleeping Beauty” film (nope, not the Disney one, as you might have guessed), and this animated film was actually created specifically for this movie. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be anywhere in its entirety, aside from in the clip from Fragile. This animated clip does have a certain significance to the movie’s sad but sugar-coated ending.


Overall, Fragile is a familiar-looking entry into the supernatural genre of vengeful spirits, mostly held up by its atmosphere and moody locations.


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Director: Jaume Balagueró
Writers: Jaume Balagueró, Jordi Galceran
Country & year: Spain, UK, 2005
Actors: Calista Flockhart, Richard Roxburgh, Elena Anaya, Gemma Jones, Yasmin Murphy, Colin McFarlane, Michael Pennington, Daniel Ortiz, Susie Trayling, Michael Gatward, Scarlet Carey, Cameron Antrobus



Vanja Ghoul