Warning: This post contains spoilers for the ending of Netflix's Fractured.
The moment Fractured, on Netflix October 11, finishes, head back to the start. The movie’s disjointed opening sequence will make a lot more sense once you know the truth of what happened at that pit stop.
Fractured is part of Netflix’s slate of original movies for Halloween, but it would be wrong to call it a scary movie. Fractured is a nihilistic worst-case scenario movie. Imagine if Taken’s big reveal was that Liam Neeson’s daughter had already died, and his efforts were for naught. That is Fractured. And this is what happens.
Remember the first scene in Fractured — it’s important.
Meet the Monroes. Ray (Sam Worthington) is a widower who gets a second chance at happiness with his second wife, Joanne (Lily Rabe) and young daughter Peri (Lucy Capri). If one thing from Fractured sticks with you, let it be this: The name Peri is short for Periwinkle, after Joanne’s favorite shell (really).
When Fractured starts, the family is beginning to show signs of, well, fracture (as is Ray’s American accent, with Worthington’s long Australian vowels sneaking in). Ray is driving home from a tense Thanksgiving dinner with Jo’s judgmental family.
Peri has to use the bathroom, so they pull over at a suspiciously grim rest stop along a two-lane highway. Ray goes into the store to buy batteries for Peri’s music player. While he’s away, a feral dog rouses and walks toward Peri. Terrified, she slowly backs up — all the way into a (randomly placed) construction pit. Peri falls too quickly for Ray to catch her. Joanne and Ray follow quickly.
But what happens to Peri? Ray seems to disassociate. Reality becomes disjointed for him, and thus for the audience. One moment, it seems like Peri is dead. Then next, she’s awake.
That versions of reality sticks, and the Monroes drive to the hospital.
What does Ray think happened in the hospital?
The rest of the movie is heavily filtered through Ray’s unreliable perspective. At the hospital, Dr. Berthram (Stephen Tobolowsky) recommends Peri have a CAT Scan for her head injury. Ray is all, “I’ll do anything for my family,” and signs off on the costly procedure.
Jo and Peri step onto an elevator to the hospital’s lower level for the scan, and don’t appear again.
That’s when Ray starts to get paranoid. Ray is convinced he’s stepped into a Twilight Zone episode set in a nefarious hospital that disappears patients and harvests their organs.
He rereads his past interactions with hospital staff through the lens of an illegal organ harvesting ring. That strangely somber nurse who wanted to list Peri for organ donation? Dr. Berthram’s comments on Peri’s beautiful eyes?! They were up to something!
Sure, it’s a far-fetched theory. To be fair to Ray, Peri and Jo really do vanish. The hospital employees cannot pull up patient records for Peri. Law enforcement and a psychologist get involved. It’s obvious that no one believes Ray; in fact, they think he murdered Peri.
But Ray finds a few clues that corroborate his perception: Peri’s scarf, her stuffed animal, the dog who pushed her into the construction pit.
Ray becomes desperate — and murderous. He kills a guard for the elevator key, and goes down to the hospital’s forbidden lower level. What he finds is gruesome. Peri is on the operating table. Jo is passed out. In another room, two men that were killed in a car accident had their torsos carved out. He thinks Peri and Jo are next.
Ray halts the surgery, puts Jo and Peri on a wheelchair, and bolts out of the operating room. He shoots Dr. Volk (Erik Athavale), in the leg on the way out. All three make it to the car safely.
It would be a happy ending, if it were true. It is very much not true.
What actually happened to Peri and Jo?
Essentially, the first hour and a half of Fractured is a complete lie. As Dr. Berthram says, Ray is “deeply confused.” He created an illusion to help him cope with the awful reality of what happened at the pit stop.
As Ray drives away from the hospital at the end of Fractured, the truth is revealed. The bodies Ray takes from the hospital are actually of the boys from the car accident (one is still alive). Peri and Jo’s bodies are in the trunk; they died at the beginning of the movie.
Here’s what really happened in the first scene: Peri fell into the pit, hit her head upon impact, and immediately died. Ray dove in after her and hit his head, too — which lent to his addled state. A devastated Jo stood next to Ray, sobbing. He struck her down, and she hit her head on a protruding metal bar. Ray put them in the trunk and drove to the hospital for a head injury, just like Dr. Bertham said he did.
In the first scene, a voice said, “They’re both gone.” Listen to that voice, not Ray’s.
Wait! What about the organ harvesting?
Sorry to all you conspiracy theorists: The hospital in Fractured is a normal, well-intentioned facility. The organ harvesting subplot was all a construction of Ray’s imagination. He turned himself into the hero of a thriller movie. In this reality, he could save his family, instead of bringing them harm.
What does Abby have to do with all this?
It’s no surprise that Ray’s mind is on Abby, his first wife. Eight years ago, Ray’s wife died in a head-on collision — and Fractured suggests that Ray was the one responsible. He was driving drunk.
With Jo and Peri, he’s trying to do things “right.” He insists he’s a “safe driver” in the first scene. He quit drinking. But his attempts at reform are not enough. In Fractured, he loses his family again.
Last thing. How did that “Get Well Soon” balloon get there?
Ah, yes. This very subtle piece of set design. A green balloon with the words “Get Well Soon” balloon is tied to a pole at the construction site. We get it, Fractured! They’re headed to a hospital, and they won’t get well.
This is bleak.