Shattered was directed by Luis Prieto (Kidnap, Pusher), written by David Loughery (Fatale, Obsessed), and stars Cameron Monaghan (Paradise Highway, Anthem of a Teenage Prophet), Lilly Krug (Every Breath You Take, Zero Contact), John Malkovich (White Elephant, Ripley’s Game), Ash Santos (We All Fall Down, Night Teeth), Sasha Luss (Anna, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets), and Frank Grillo (Jiu Jitsu, A Day to Die). It follows a man as he fights his crazed seductress for survival.
The Plot: Booming in the late 1980s to the mid-1990s, “x-from-hell” movies fell off in terms of audience interest thanks to the stagnation of original ideas and decreasing quality in execution. Shattered tries to capitalize on a dormant sub-genre but doesn’t bring anything new to the table with it.
Pressure is coming down on Chris (Monaghan) from soon-to-be-ex-wife Jamie (Luss) to finalize and sign off on their divorce, putting it off again until tomorrow, he goes to the grocery store and finds Sky (Krug), who he takes back to her motel room. Fearing a confrontation with roommate Lisa (Santos), Sky elects to come with Chris back to his house which results in a one-night stand. It plays out as expected, with the woman enjoying the man’s high-class everything, but that’s the thing with Shattered, its plot is merely competent for most of the runtime.
When Chris wakes up in the morning, he finds that Sky has left, making her way back to the motel where she’s accosted up front by Lisa and from a distance by the landlord Ronald (Malkovich). Needing a second round, Chris meets her again and interrupts a jacking of his car, but his leg is injured in the process. All of the steps taken to get to the thriller territory are painfully apparent, such as Sky volunteering to watch over Chris, Lisa coming up dead which leads to the cops taking on the case, which goes nowhere, and the insertion of Sebastian, (Grillo) a sleazy partner in crime to assist Sky’s inevitable scheming.
Nothing about this story is even remotely close to the original, but Prieto directs as though it is. It’s dull in its approach and signposted as clear as day.
The Characters: Loughery reaches into the void for characterization, offering blandness to almost every single character and relying on formula to bring audiences into the fold between the leads, which goes as expected.
Chris is detached from the world, hardly leaving his house after his early retirement courtesy of being born into wealth and expanding on it by developing a home security plan that got snatched up quickly. Marital problems between him and Jamie aren’t explained; it seems as though he didn’t pay much attention to her or his daughter, but it would’ve been far more interesting if the movie leaned into the womanizer angle that it presents around him. As soon as he gets the chance to have sex with a woman like Sky, he uses his wealth and Sky’s troubled life as leverage to get her into bed. Not easy to root for him.
Sky’s dialogue and Krug’s performance are both to blame for the groan-worthy seductress’s caricature-esque presence. Shattered’s script piles cliches surrounding her life that she becomes an amalgam of every single black widow in cinema. Growing up in the foster system and going through several families got the ball rolling, lying to people around her continues the momentum, swinging both ways exacerbates the issues, and her comical ignorance of Lisa’s death seals the deal. The character is a miss, and Krug doesn’t make it any better with a performance too twitchy and hammy to sufficiently disarm audiences that further shines bright red neon lights on the siren.
Side characters do their jobs in creating Shattered’s generic atmosphere, and Ronald is the only entertaining component of the cast, spying on Sky and Lisa and finding out a little more than he wanted to know. Malkovich is having a good time at least.
The Thrills: It’s a long time coming before Shattered even attempts to thrill the audience, and when he finally gets around to trying, it’s all rehashed moments from better movies.
Lulling Chris into a false sense of security is easy, despite all indications from his character that this shouldn’t be the case. Conversations between the two lovers don’t summon any excitement since the conclusions are all foregone and the inciting incident of a man trying to steal Chris’s car is clearly staged on behalf of Sky’s plan. It’s too convenient by half and isn’t made into an engaging struggle; it ends just as quickly as it begins.
Requisite moments of torture start to appear during the second half of Shattered, but none of them have the effects or originality of something like Misery to back them up. Sky starts off by using a power drill on Chris’s broken leg, but the makeup effects are mediocre throughout the entire movie, limiting impact. Other struggles like Chris’s attempt at escaping his wheelchair and bargaining with Ronald, who breaks into the house, are present but similarly pedestrian in execution.
Loughery tries to make monologuing and socio-political ramblings into moments that set the movie to a boil, but that fails too, and it seems like he knows it as even Chris says “you can’t twist this into some socio-political bullshit” so it falls flat on its face. However, most of the time is spent with Chris sitting in his wheelchair, waiting for someone to arrive or something to happen. The feeling is contagious, with a big (now empty) house acting as a prison for all but Sky.
The Technics: Prieto made a glossy and slick thriller with a beautiful setting, but the exterior is just a fine veneer for something hollow and conventional.
Pacing is a huge problem here, with the movie working through the motions much slower than necessary to illustrate its world and point. Nearly half of Shattered’s 92-minute runtime passes before anything starts to happen, and with an unconvincing romance created with middling dialogue, it feels like watching a Peter Jackson movie at 25% speed.
Whereas something like Misery had terrifically bone-crunching sound design and Better Watch Out had shocking deaths punctuated with strong visuals, Shattered has nothing. It pulls its punches frequently, with only one of a small handful of violent displays even being shown on screen, the movie feels like an R-rated Lifetime movie only because of its nudity.
Prieto has yet to show competence at creating thrillers, Loughery reheats the same script for the umpteenth time, and Krug delivers an awful performance. Little bits and pieces like Malkovich and a sword kill are decent, but Shattered is too long, too familiar, and too tepid.