Eight children are the last patients remaining in an isolated, run-down hospital in the process of closing. When their transfer to the new site is delayed, a nurse called Amy starts to notice strange happenings. The children talk about a frightening "mechanical girl" who inhabits a long-abandoned part of the building, and Amy begins to believe they are in danger from a malevolent ghost. One who does not want them to leave.
I'd not heard of this movie before. At the time it was released, its lead actress was best known for a popular TV comedy/drama series that featured dancing babies. So I admit, I wasn't expecting to take this film very seriously.
But what we get is a old-fashioned spooky story and an intriguing mystery that unfolds deliciously slowly. All the classic ingredients are here. An isolated location. No telephone communication. An eerie old building with a whole floor that's been mysteriously closed off for over 50 years. Thundery nights. Dark secrets. And on top of all that, a deep sense of unease that builds steadily throughout the film. But rather than feeling cliched or hackneyed, there's something almost comfortingly familiar about it all. Like telling ghost stories in front of a crackling log fire on a cold, dark winter's night.
While Calista Flockhart is better than I'd expected here, it's Yasmin Murphy who's the one to watch. She gives an impressive performance as the troubled little girl, Maggie. Characters are interesting and likeable. The set design is beautifully creepy, particularly in the deserted section of the hospital. And everything is underpinned by a wonderfully dramatic, orchestral score, and some beautiful cinematography.
The story hooked me very early on, and it even has a decent surprise twist towards the end that I didn't see coming. While Fragile might not offer anything groundbreaking, its old-school reliance on atmosphere and a good story really pays off. I enjoyed this very much - heck, I loved it. If you can get hold of a copy, grab it. I certainly recommend it.