Movie Review: “Compound Fracture” Is A Mundane Ghost Story

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Review by James McDonald

After the gruesome death of his sister, Michael Wolffsen returns home with his fiancee and his recently orphaned nephew to take care of his father Gary.

I don’t know what it is with contemporary horror movies and ghost stories but they’re just not very effective at achieving their desired goal. “Compound Fracture” is a jaded tale that could have worked, that could have had some genuine scares and thrills but they just never materialized. I have to give credit to the film’s star, Tyler Mane for not only appearing in the movie but for also producing it. Mr. Mane is best known as Michael Myers in the reboots of “Halloween” and “Halloween II” and while I personally didn’t care for those two movies, those film’s director, Rob Zombie, achieved perfection in the casting of Mr. Mane. Standing at 6′ 8″, he is an imposing and towering figure that was ideal for the part.

In “Compound Fracture”, Mr. Mane plays Michael, a man who lives with his fiancee Juliette (Renae Geerlings) and nephew Brandon (Alex Saxon). Having walked away from his domineering and abusive father years earlier, he asks Michael to return to him as he is suffering from the onset of dementia. His father is also wealthy and because Michael is the only one of his children left alive, he will naturally inherit the family’s estate. When the trio arrive, Gary has mixed emotions about seeing them but as the next few days elapse, strange things begin happening and the family’s history comes to light, much to Michael’s chagrin.

Michael’s sister Chloe (Susan Angelo) and the mother of Brandon, was living in an abusive relationship with her husband William (Derek Mears) and after having moved Brandon and herself in with Michael, to get away from the violence, he turned up one night and stabbed her to death, with Michael shooting him dead in the process. Now it appears, William’s spirit is haunting the family compound and won’t stop until everyone is dead. Even though Gary is suffering from dementia, when he says he’s seeing things, nobody believes him, initially but gradually, they all start experiencing the strange goings-on.

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Of course, this being a ghost story, the compound is set out in the middle of nowhere and after a few genuine early scares, they begin to wear off rather quickly. The reason the movie stops being frightening is because William’s spectre becomes human-like and towards the end of the film, he and Michael fight it out in the living room while the remaining family members try to perform a ritual that will send him straight to hell. Because he’s now taking on the persona of a mortal, a punch to the face or a kick to the groin thwarts his efforts and you forget that he’s still technically a ghost.

I’m sure being a specter has its upside: floating through walls, not needing to pee, scaring the bejeezus out of any one you want, whenever you want but in a movie like this, in order to be genuinely frightening, a spirit needs to remain just that: a spirit. And filmmakers, please take heed in what the great Roger Corman once said; “Never show your monster in the daylight!” When the ghosts and boogeymen start coming out during the daytime, it kind of defeats the whole purpose of making a scary movie. After all, we have no qualms walking outside during the day but when it’s dark, and we hear a noise, and the wind is blowing, and there’s a full moon, fear tends to get the best of us. And that’s exactly what you want when you set out to make a ghost story.

Mr. Mane scowls, growls and grumbles throughout the entire movie. I get that he has mixed emotions about seeing his father after all these years but it would be nice to see him actually emote, seeing that he is not having to wear prosthetics (“X-Men”) or masks (“Halloween” & “Halloween II”). Muse Watson as Gary does his fair share of grumbling and mumbling and after a while, you realize it must be hereditary and having the two of them in the same room, after a while, becomes tiresome. I was pleasantly surprised to see Leslie Easterbrook in the movie, she played Sgt. Callahan in the “Police Academy” movies and I had the biggest crush on her back in the 1980’s and here, she does a fine job, given the limited material she has to work with. Overall, the movie wasn’t too bad but it wasn’t too good either.

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James McDonald
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