We are defined by our memories. Being able to recall the sum total of our experiences, feelings; our likes and dislikes together forge our fundamental personality creating who we are as viewed by ourselves and how we are perceived by others. Neurological disorders such as amnesia the memories outright removed or Alzheimer's disease where memories of the past and present experiences become tragically blurred are considered among the emotionally most difficult disorders to cope with. The psychological impact and emotional disruption of mental disorders affecting the memory strike a visceral chord with the audience. Literature and subsequently movies have used amnesia as a fundamental theme literally for ages. It is also a go to plot contrivance for the addictive television genre of the soap opera, allowing the rider to redefine the character and allow unusual pathways for the story to progress. The movie under review here, ‘Fractured’, superficially may seem to be another movie overly dependent on amnesia, a rather hackneyed plot contrivance at this point. Fortunately for people who are fans of independent film, this is certainly not the case in this instance. The director and screenwriter here, Adam Gierasch, has taken a rather imaginative approach as to how to utilize the disorganized memory to drive an intriguing movie. Adding to the underlying flavor of this film is that it was constructed using many of the basic tenants of a classic 1940s film noir. Admittedly, this is one of my favorite genres, that is, if it’s done correctly. Once again this film achieves that goal.
The filmmaker may easily into the psychological scaffold your construct to support the story, but he race no time in establishing the look and feel of film noir. The title of the movie is displayed in a font precisely lifted from an old-fashioned typewriter, the kind of device that was not only used to write many of the film noir classics, but is inevitably used as a prop in the rundown detective office so commonly seen in these films. The lighting is dim as the camera takes us on a point of view trail that leads us upstairs into the kitchen of what appears to be a moderately upscale restaurant. The classic film noir mood is reinforced by alone saxophone playing in the background. There is also the requisite voiceover with the protagonist using over whether a person can switch from being basically good to evil. We soon discover that we are in Baton Rouge, a perfect setting for this type of film. We watch as the chef prepares the meal carefully setting the meat and vegetables on a plate, mindful of the presentation. The man is currently known as Dylan White (Callum Blue). It turns out that he recently awoken out of a coma unable to recall any details of who he is. The persona of Dylan White is his attempt to create a personality that allows them to function as normally as possible. Still, he is plagued by a nagging need to know what happened to him and who we actually are.
After work Dylan settles down in his apartment watching television. The anchorwoman read the warning to conserve power due to the prolong heat wave the city is experiencing. Sweltering heat is always a nice touch for this type of production. The next story concerns a triple homicide that has the police baffled serves to dangle a piece of foreshadowing before the audience. He gets up to answer knock on the door and is greeted by his girlfriend, Brandy (Ashlynn Yennie). In the near darkness of the apartment they waste no time before engaging in an R-rated sex scene. Dylan gets up in the middle of the night as we see him walking through a doorway in his apartment that mysteriously the leads into a hallway flickering fluorescent light. He witnesses a tangle of bloodied bodies struggling and writhing on the floor; one manages to break free and begins to chase him. Brandy awakens to notice that Dylan is gone, finding him in the corner of the room naked. The scene shifts immediately to Dylan at work as if nothing happened. In order to properly execute the story with this theme, it is necessary to demonstrate the psychological and emotional toll the amnesia was having on the protagonist.
Later we watch as Dylan and Brandy are shopping in a small supermarket; as normal a scene as possible in depicting a couple. While looking for an item in the freezer section Dylan is suddenly grabbed by bloody arms and pulled inside by the same gruesomely bloodied woman prominent in his last hallucination. Back at his apartment building is on the verge of a tearful breakdown confessing to Brandy that he’s afraid he’s losing his mind. He decides to take a ride to clear his head, gets out of his car lighting a cigarette outside a place with a sign reading, ‘Havenford Facility’. Apparently it is a facility for long-term maintenance care of, long-term comatose patients. Dylan walks along the halls of the hospital room until recently he was a patient. Dylan is drawn to continue to investigate is murky past. Along the way we encounter a strange man with a bizarrely tattooed face. His search takes him to a room with hidden in the ceiling is a large amount of money that intensifies Dylan’s obsessive need to piece together his past. At one point he goes into a bar for drink and off to the side’s a beautiful woman striking red hair. She holds a cigarette to dark red lips nonchalantly cracking knuckles one-handedly while waiting for him to respond by lighting it. The mysterious woman is Marlene (Nicole LaLiberte), the idea archetype to fill the film noir requirement of the femme fatale. She is the hard drinking, heavy smoking female character that in the non-politically correct golden age of this genre would be referred to as a dame. This apparently chance encounter prove, true to form, to play a pivotal role in what will shortly unfold.
Some may complain that the pacing of this film is far too slow. While I agree that the story progresses at a pace much more leisurely than a horror film enthusiast is used to it has to be remembered that this is a fusion between horror and film noir with the latter dominating much of the artistic styling of the film. Rather than being a drawback. I found it to be one of the more intriguing characteristics of the movie. Film noir has moved on from being a genre unto itself to an all pervading style that it artistic director can employ to set the mood and overall environment used to tell the story. More horrific elements of the movie are germane to the overall production that this filmmaker made a conscious decision as to how the film would look and feel to the audience. By the time we do get to the truth that Dylan’s subconscious has repressed, we discover just how the horror aspects fit in to the story as a whole. There is a synergy between the elements of horror in the stylistic tenants of film noir that create a distinctive appeal to this film. Much of the suspense that pervades this film is created by subtle juxtapositions used in the story by the filmmaker. It was the clean, control environment of Dylan’s job as a chef with the dark confusion and macabre images of his visions. In the kitchen Dylan is in complete control and familiar with what he is doing; this is the life you created the film devoid of his missing reality. It creates a stark contrast to the writhing bloody bodies and the lack of control as he is grabbed and pulled into his nightmarish world. In a similar sense the contrast between Brandy and Marlene represents another dichotomy between light and dark, Brandy. The loving, supportive girlfriend trying to best understand or going on with Dylan and Marlene representing a dark, mysterious and potentially dangerous side that exemplifies his search for the truth. This is the kind of film that is frequently underrated by the online community. Perhaps a lot of that has to do with expectations; if you are looking for traditional horror movie, then you will understandably be disappointed with this film. However, if your tastes run a bit deeper and encompass some of the cinematic styling of Hollywood’s Golden age than your certain to Garner a better insight into what this filmmaker was trying to do. In that case you will find this movie quite enjoyable and successful in merging to normally very different genres of film.