'Fractured' Review: Brad Anderson Checks Us Into Another Spooky Hospital [Fantastic Fest 2019]

This review may contain mild spoilers.Brad Anderson really hates hospitals. You can't blame him, really. They may technically be places of healing, but they're also places of death, pain, disease, and misery. Places where we're born, and places where – more often than not – we die. Anderson burst onto the scene in 2001 with his spooky indie Session 9, about a potentially haunted abandoned mental hospital. His underrated Stonehearst Asylum also focused on a still-operational, but just as spooky hospital. Now Anderson is back with Fractured, a film full of sterile environments, long white hallways, and medical professionals with shifty eyes. Something is very wrong in this hospital – but nothing is as it seems.Fractured never fails to thrill – it's a captivating, entertaining experience. But let's get one thing clear: you've seen this story before. Many, many times. And there's predictability afoot from nearly the first few moments. Alan B. McElroy's script is lifting elements from The Lady VanishesThe ShiningShudder Island, and many more – even Anderson's own Session 9 – resulting in an unfortunately unoriginal script.

Yet Anderson is able to elevate the material, relying on tricks, clues, and tense moments that pay off in big ways. At the center of it all is Sam Worthington, turning in a surprisingly strong performance. Worthington tends to be one of those bland interchangeable actors lacking in range, but Fractured allows him to break out in a big way, playing a man growing more and more disturbed as he tries to solve an impossible mystery.

Worthington is Ray Monroe, a recovering alcoholic who struggles with a serious case of self-doubt. He's a family man, married to Joanne (Lily Rabe) and a father to Peri (Lucy Capri). But the Monroe family is anything but idyllic. When we first meet them, they're speeding down a snowy stretch of highway after a disastrous Thanksgiving with Joanne's parents. Anderson cuts into the action right in the midst of a violent verbal argument between Ray and Joanne, as the two trade barbs back and forth.

A stop-off at a gas station leads to an accident that badly injures Peri, and her parents frantically rush to the nearest hospital. Right from the start, Ray senses something is wrong with this place. The staff is less-than-helpful, and certain individuals keep whispering to one another about certain patients. Nothing here seems on the up and up, but Ray doesn't care – he wants medical care for his daughter, and he wants it now.

The family finds a friendly face in Dr. Berthram (the always-reliable Stephen Tobolowsky), the warmest individual within the hospital's walls. The doc recommends sending Peri for a CAT scan, and off the child goes, with Joanne in tow as Ray waits – and dozes off – in the waiting room. When consciousness returns, things begin to go terribly wrong. The hospital has no record of Ray's family checking in, and no one can find Joanne or Peri anywhere. Is there a sinister plot afoot in the hospital's secretive basement? Is Ray hiding secrets of his own? Anderson plays up the film's mysterious, often confusing nature by putting us fully into Ray's head, where we can practically feel the man's panic and confusion taking hold the stranger things get. Worthington excels here, doing a lot of acting with wide eyes and a twitchy mouth.

Unfortunately, the heavy focus on Worthington's character means everyone else is basically a non-entity. Rabe's wife character gets a few fiery moments before vanishing, and we learn next to nothing about all the other people Ray comes across, including cops, nurses, security guards, and a psychiatrist who pops-up in the third act as a combination deus ex machina/exposition machine.

These elements, coupled with the almost painfully predictable plotline, should sink Fractured. But Anderson pulls it off, keeping things moving at a clipped, frantic pace that never lets up. You'll know exactly where Fractured is going – but you'll have an incredibly exciting time getting there. And like Brad Anderson, you'll probably end up hating hospitals (if you don't already).

/Film Rating: 6.5 out of 10