Director: Jamie Patterson
Screenwriters: Jamie Patterson, Christian Hearn
Starring: April Pearson, Karl Davies, Louise Lytton, Jordan Metcalfe
A perfect treat for Halloween if you’re a fan of independent cinema, Jamie Patterson’s Fractured (2018) encapsulates the spookiness and effectiveness of the British independent horror genre. Patterson (Tucked; Caught) takes key horror conventions and twists them in this edgy and unique cinematic piece. With the talented duo of ‘Skins’ star April Pearson and on-screen boyfriend Karl Davies (‘Chernobyl’; ‘Happy Valley’) centre-stage, Fractured makes for an intriguing seasonal watch.
Written by Jamie Patterson and Christian Hearn, Fractured depicts the story of a young couple, Rebecca and Michael, who are in desperate need of a romantic getaway – or so we think. They escape to an isolated country house, a classic horror trope, but Rebecca can’t really escape the feeling that someone is watching them. The film follows the couple as they deal with car issues, relationship issues, and most prominently ghostly issues, until this narrative fades out and we are given more of an insight into Rebecca and Michael’s life together as we meet some new characters: Alva (Louisa Lytton – ‘Eastenders’) and Freyr (Jordan Metcalfe – Pride). The story then gradually unfolds in a two-part, quirky structure, the filmmakers dragging us from one horror to the next.
A good narrative structure is a huge part of any horror film, but especially an indie horror, and this film ticks all the boxes in that department. With an ominous first half, where the audience learn little about the protagonists, viewers are left wanting more and simultaneously not wanting to know what horrific things await. But that is, of course, exactly what we all want from a scary film – being on the edge of our seats, covering our faces with pillows, and waiting for the impending doom that is sure to come. The fractured (get it?) narrative of this film only adds to this sense; the story split into two halves, showing two sides of the same tale, the second half being particularly terrifying.
From the get-go, Patterson instills fear through the artistic choice to constantly position the camera as a bystander, watching from a distance or through a windowpane. This helps to emphasise the suspense of the narrative, and constantly suggests that there is someone watching. The cinematography is unique and effective, with bizarre angles and close ups that add to the uneasy atmosphere already created by the other cinematic elements.
The location choices in this film are another praiseworthy element, with fog and lowly-lit sets playing as much of a key part as the incredibly creepy holiday cottage at its centre. The characters spend the whole film either in the cottage or on a long and winding road, travelling, yet Patterson and company get the most out of them, presenting something claustrophobic, as if inescapable.
Fractured features horror-generic shots too – using the classic establishing shot when introducing the creepy cottage that the couple will be staying in, for example. This can, of course, be found in many horror films, but the most famous and obvious inspiration is that of Stanley Kubrick’s Stephen King adaptation The Shining (1980). Patterson also chooses shaky tracking shots and regularly uses hand-held camera techniques to add a sense of urgency, creepiness and dread, borrowing without imitating any number of the horror genre’s staples, not least The Blair Witch Project (1997). With any number of close-ups that bring the horrors to life through the performances of the film’s talented cast, it is clear that Fractured is every bit the spooky horror it promises to be.
The acting in this film is pretty incredible. Convincing from the opening scene, Pearson and Davies show a lot of promise despite having to communicate an intimacy and a bond that is not as present in the screenplay as it should be in the first half of the film. Their chemistry feels natural, and as the intelligence of the screenwriters shines in the film’s meatier moments, they are afforded the space to showcase not only their serious and intense acting talents, but also their comedic chops. As the narrative and the dramatisation builds, so does their acting. In the second part of the narrative, the audience is introduced to Alva and Freyr, Louisa Lytton stealing the show as Alva once her character comes into play.
As indie horror films go, Fractured is a great watch. It’s gripping, spooky, gory and unique. This film will shock you and give you chills at the same time. Patterson and the whole team ensure that this independent feature keeps you on your toes, and would definitely make for a perfect Hallow’s Eve treat. If you love your indie films and are up for watching something a little bit different, look no further than 2018’s Fractured.