Netflix’s mindbender Fractured continues to captivate viewers nearly two years later because the twist is unexpectedly bleak and the emotions very raw. What begins as a hospital of horrors morphs into the emptiness of loss, alcoholism, and unfulfilled promises. Familiar themes of desperation and guilt resonate with audiences because we can all relate to his terror at watching his child suffer. That familiar pain holds the film together when the tenuous threads of plotting strain the imagination. It all makes sense if you watch the beginning knowing the end. The confusing and disjointed storyline is often challenging to understand for a reason. As the title says, the reality we are seeing is as fractured as our protagonist’s mind.
Sam Worthington’s(The Titan and Avatar) Ray is a married father of one child, Peri, short for Periwinkle. His wife Joanne(Lily Rabe, American Horror Story) is a second chance at love after his first wife died. An unpleasant Thanksgiving meal with Joanne’s viper’s nest of a family has left the couple on edge. Peri needs to use the restroom on the way home, and the family stops at an ominous-looking rest stop. Unfortunately for the family, there is an exposed construction site hole and an aggressive dog. As the dog pursues Peri straight into the hole, things take a disastrous turn. The tension of a family holiday gives way to the nightmare of an injured child as the lines between reality and fantasy blur. Here is everything you need to know about that grim ending.
Ray’s unreliable narrative
The remainder of the movie is Ray’s chaotic view of the events. Ray is the ultimate unreliable narrator. His mind has dissociated from reality to protect itself from the pain of losing yet another family member. This is why Peri first seems dead and later alive. Ray agrees to an expensive CAT scan at the hospital, and Joanne and Peri head into the elevator for the procedure. Shortly after leaving, Ray’s mind begins playing tricks on him. He becomes convinced his wife and child have fallen into a horror movie where an entire hospital staff is conspiring to steal organs and kill patients. His paranoia colors every interaction he has had with the hospital staff. The melancholy nurse who wants to discuss organ donation and the doctor who comments on Peri’s striking eyes are now taken as proof that the hospital is up to no good.
Making matters worse, at this point, the hospital loses records on Peri. They think she doesn’t exist, and he becomes agitated to the point that a psychiatrist and the police step in. Everyone thinks Ray is at best having a psychotic break and, at worse, may have harmed his family. Ray finds a few of Peri’s belongings and sees the stray dog, so he knows he isn’t making it all up. However, some of these are also products of a fractured mind.
Unfortunately, the more he finds, the deeper his delusion becomes. Finally, he locks the police officers and the counselor in a bathroom at the rest stop he drove them to and returns to the hospital. Ray becomes so desperate to save his family he attacks a guard and takes his key to the rest of the hospital, where he finds Jo passed out and Peri on a surgical table. In the next room, two car wreck victims have been cut open. Ray is convinced Peri and Jo are next, so he grabs Jo and Peri and shoots the surgeon on the way out of the hospital. He thinks he is a hero—the consummate provider who saved his family.
Unfortunately for Ray, none of that is true. The camera shifts to show reality. Ray has stolen the two car wreck victims, and one of them is still living. As for Jo and Peri, they are dead in the trunk. They have been there since the very beginning. This is why the hospital has no record of anyone and why Jo and Peri disappeared in the hospital. They were never there.
What really happened to Peri and Jo?
Peri did get scared by a dog and fell into the pit. She hit her head on something in the pit and died instantly. Ray tried to catch her and hit his head but did not die. That bonk to the head, coupled with his grief, caused him to lose all touch with reality. Joanne started shooting at Ray for throwing the rock at the dog which startled Peri and caused her to fall. In Ray’s panic to save his daughter and prove he was a good dad, he pushed his wife aside, and she hit her head on an exposed piece of rebar.
Completely out of his mind, he puts both dead bodies in his trunk and drives to the hospital, where he starts demanding information on patients who were never there and kidnaps a random patient who is now dying in his car. All of the conversations with Jo and Peri after the rest stop are figments of his imagination.
One odd detail that gives everything away if we know where to look is the yellow coat. Peri wheres it when she falls into the pit but is wearing a light pink one in the hospital and Jo is wearing a brown coat that looks yellow and holding Peri’s yellow scarf. Ray’s mind keeps confusing the two because his first wife was pregnant with their child when they died in the accident. To Ray, the two are jumbled entities of his inability to protect his family.
Why did Ray fracture?
Ray has a lot of problems. He is in a troubled marriage. His first wife died, and he is a raging alcoholic. He was drinking on the night his first wife and unborn child died in a car accident. It is heavily implied his drunk driving was to blame for the wreck. It is probably why the boys he takes from the hospital who were also car accident victims are stand-ins for Jo and Peri.
Although he never purposely hurt Peri and Jo, he contributed to Jo’s fall. Ray was forced to deal with yet another situation where he believes he is to blame for the loss of his wife and child. Unable to face that his mind fractured and concocted an alternate reality. Losing both yet again was too much for his already fragile mind, and so it protected itself with the elaborate story. The green “Get Well Soon” balloon tied to the pole at the rest stop is just one too many cruel reminders that no one is ever getting better.
Everything you need to know about Fractured is in the title and the opening sequence. Listen for the voices that aren’t Ray’s and ignore his rantings. Dr. Berthram did recommend a CAT scan, but it was for Ray, not Peri. The hospital was unaware Peri was even there. This is dark stuff and Fractured never climbs out of that shadowy space where ghosts live, and hope dies. Whether the poor boy dying in Ray’s car ever gets saved, we never know. But it doesn’t look good for him either.
As the Managing Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre entertainment. I grew up with old-school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. My work can be found here and Travel Weird, where I am the Editor in Chief.