Saturday, June 22, 2013

Fractional (2011)

Mental patient David Crowe is about to reveal a dark secret of his former psychiatrist's John Hatchet's past. A secret that has stayed so hidden John will do anything not to reveal it. As Crowe subjects John to five days of mental and physical torture inside an abandon warehouse John's facade fractures and the truth begins to come out. The more honest John becomes the more tragic the events unfold. And as Crowe gets his way his mental incapacity becomes all the more apparent. With John running out of time he must find a way to survive to not only protect his past but also the ones he loves.

Initially I didn't understand Fractional or where it was intending to lead. My initial impression, as the film opens to a similar torture porn construct, was exactly that, another torture porn. The sub-genre often surprises though and as Fractional unraveled the body may be meant for the genre but the soul of the film is entirely psychological. Its about the unabridged horrors that the human mind is exhausted through, may that be loss or insanity, etc and in how that torture drives us. The story structure is a bit jagged, moving swiftly between hours and days, and comes off oddly paced. There's minimal gore as despite a quite lovely display of harmful instruments most of the torture is the extent which is done on to the mind. The general setting of the film takes place in one room, the dark warehouse that John is trapped in, but flashes to past moments to give us a pleasant change of scenery. Yet nothing escapes the grim tone of the rather dreary subject matter in the film.

John's character is a fair counter to the mind game of Crowe, his darker past and professional insight useful weapons as the victim. Desmond Daly is decent as the lead and responds well off Peter O'Toole. Crowe's character takes precedence as the far more interesting character though, as he's a variety of psycho that would get along well in a ward with the big league monsters. O'Toole has acquired depth to his role and with director Malcolm Deegan creates a disturbing but mastered villain. There's a particular moment in the film where Crowe has an honest confessional of what he's responsible for in John's past that is played out like a conductor instructing an orchestra, the acting with the choice of music makes the moment both lovely and chilling. Other choices such as leaving the camera on Crowe for an uncomfortable amount of time give him a sinister advantage or by using the echos off the wall give his voice an otherworldly feel.

The film's photography was to my liking, with the lighting and camera angles satisfying to the eye. There's a basis of mystery here beneath the horror plot as the angles are constantly at change. The mystery surrounding John's previous wife's death and his patient relationship with Crowe taunt the viewer with that simple question of who the real monster really is. Fractional was an interesting watch that didn't go where I expected, I thoroughly liked the psychological horror of the film and the dialogue between the two leads. Fractional is available to rent on the films website, and I'd recommend it as a good watch.

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