Tyler Mane and Derek Mears have played iconic slashers. Does the new supernatural horror Compound Fracture make good use of these genre titans?
Earlier this year, I had a mostly favorable reaction to Penance Lane, which starred Tyler Mane as a drifter drawn to a ramshackle house, and the secrets contained within. In addition to its more overt horror elements, it showed that Mane could depict a flawed character with noble traits. Now, the prolific actor is back with Compound Fracture.
Whereas Penance Lane was about earthbound evil, Compound Fracture puts some familiar genre faces within a story where tenuous family relations commingle with the supernatural. Mane (who co-wrote the script with Renae Geerlings) seems to be going for a James Wan vibe here.
Compound Fracture is strongest during its first hour, as we grow familiar with Michael Wolffsen (Mane), his fiancee Juliette (Geerlings), and nephew Brandon (Alex Saxon). The Wolffsens are steeped in cult-like family tradition, to the point where Michael broke with father Gary’s (Muse Watson) ways years prior.
But Brandon has survived his own trauma, as his mother Chloe (Susan Angelo) – Michael’s sister – was murdered by psychotic uncle William (Derek Mears). And, in an unfortunate twist of fate, the deceased William’s spirit is looming around Gary’s survivalist compound.
I enjoyed the character interaction early on, as we get a feel for everyone’s emotions and motivations. As Gary’s current wife, Leslie Easterbrook evokes a sense of patience and calm, the inverse of her Devil’s Rejects character (she also looks a bit like latter-day Jane Fonda here).
Geerlings’ maternal presence reminded me of Vera Farmiga in The Conjuring films. Mears is appropriately menacing, especially in the film’s black-and-white flashbacks. Watson straddles the line between occult believer and possible dementia case, and gives a convincing performance. Mane, meanwhile, continues to mine his intimidating stature in a more nuanced, dramatic way.
Like I said, the intriguing build-up in getting to know these characters is where Compound Fracture soars.
Unfortunately, the occult elements that drive the last 30 minutes render the story a muddle. I had a hard time following the characters’ plan to vanquish Mears’ violent demon, and the climactic fight scene is a collection of confounding edits and ineffective jump scares.
The lead-up was strong enough to keep me on the hook, but the character-based tension dissolves to give genre fans the type of showdown that feels pulled from a lesser film. That said, I did appreciate Compound Fracture‘s final moments, which reject the smirking cynicism that horror is sometimes notorious for. It’s ultimately a mixed bag, but I would give the film a marginal recommendation if you’re a fan of the principal cast.
Is Compound Fracture the type of film that you will watch? Let us know in the comments.