Fragile (film)

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Theatrical poster
Directed by Jaume Balagueró
Produced by Massimo Vigliar
Julio Fernández
Joan Ginard
Written by Jaume Balagueró
Jordi Galcerán
Starring Calista Flockhart
Elena Anaya
Yasmin Murphy
Richard Roxburgh
Colin McFarlane
Music by Roque Baños
Cinematography Xavi Gimenez
Edited by Jaume Marti
Release dates
  • October 14, 2005 (2005-10-14) (Spain)
Running time
93 minutes
Country Spain
United Kingdom
Language English

Fragile (Spanish: Frágiles) is a 2005 Spanish/UK horror film directed by Jaume Balagueró.



It was filmed between Barcelona, Spain and the Isle of Wight, England. The exterior scenes of the hospital were filmed at Bearwood College in Berkshire, England.

The Sleeping Beauty animation short seen on the projector was created specifically for this movie.[1]


The film premiered on 2 September 2005 as part of the Venice Film Festival and was released in a theatrical release in Spain on 14 October 2005.[2] The movie has had several release dates around the world since its original release in October 2005.[3] Lightning Media released the film in July 2010 via DVD, Video on Demand and Digital Download.[4] Fragile is also part of the Fangoria FrightFest 2010 on 21 June 2010.[5]


On the Isle of White, just off the South Coast of England, a train accident means that the main hospital is completely full and is unable to take in any more patients. The smaller and older hospital, Mercy Falls which is more isolated, is being closed down however this accident means that some of the patients, including the childrens ward, need to remain at the site until there is availability elsewhere. The hospital has three floors with the children's ward on the first floor. The second floor was closed off twenty years before and is unaccessable due to the elevator buttons being disabled and the stairs blocked off.

One of the children, Maggie, an orphan suffering from severe cystic fibrosis, tells the night nurse, Susan, that she has seen "her" again. Obviously frightened, Susan refuses to listen and tells Maggie to go back to bed. As Maggie trembles in bed, one of the other children screams in pain and is rushed to the X-ray department, suffering from a broken leg. Susan tells Robert- the night doctor- that she does not know how Simon's leg was broken as he certainly did not fall from bed. Simon also claims he does not know what happened and as he lies on the x-ray table we see that his leg suddenly suffers a second fracture.

Susan apparently leaves the hospital on sick leave following Simon's injury and Amy Nicholls arrives at the hospital to replace her until the move. Amy learns from Mrs Folder, the hospital director, that the elevator no longer goes up to the second floor, a ward that has not been used since 1959 although it has not been cleared of furniture since that time. The day nurse Helen Perez introduces her to the eight remaining children, two of whom are on ventilators. Amy instantly begins to bond with Maggie as both are orphans and Maggie seems to sit alone playing with a set of old wooden alphabet blocks.

Amy is only just returning to nursing following a period of absence after a child in her care died. Although she wasn't responsible, she blames herself for not spotting the symptoms of the boy's final illness sooner and is still grieving.

During her night shift Amy sees that Maggie is unable to sleep and the two bond further when Amy admires Maggie's comfort blanket and tells her about her own childhood comforter called 'Mr Sleepy'. Maggie then explains to Amy that there is a 'mechanical girl' called Charlotte who lives on the abandoned upstairs ward and who she can talk to by using the wooden blocks. The entire ward is awakened by a sudden loud series of noises from the upper floor which Amy attributes to the delapidated state of the hospital and air locks in the pipes.

In the morning Amy meets Dr Robert who has come to the ward to help move Simon to another hospital on the mainland as he needs more work on his broken leg. Amy also asks Ray, the operations manager, about the 'mechanical girl' and Ray explains that Charlotte is an urban legend at the hospital who has been seen by several children over the past two decades and is a ghost story told by the younger patients.

Amy wheels Simon into the lift to take him to the waiting helicopter but the lift refuses to start. It then takes Amy and Simon up to the abandoned ward although the doors cannot open. The lift then plummets down to the ground floor, terrifying Simon and Amy, with Simon saying that Charlotte is the one who broke his leg and is now trying to stop him leaving. After Simon leaves in the helicopter, Amy begins to ask questions about why Susan left so suddenly. Mrs Folder says that she doesn't know but that Amy should avoid getting emotionally involved.

Amy looks at Simon's medical file and finds the X-rays taken when he broke his leg. The first x-ray shows one fracture, the second which was taken five minutes later shows two fractures, something Robert is unable to explain.

Amy visits Susan's home to ask her why she left and what she knows about Charlotte. However, she's told that Susan died in an accident the previous night. She is told to speak with two elderly woman, known locally as psychics, who had met with Susan several times before her death and they explain to Amy that Charlotte is real and can only be seen by those who are close to death as the veil between the worlds of the living and dead becomes thin. Amy asks why Charlotte is still at the hospital and learns that ghosts usually haunt a place bcause it is closest to what they loved best in life. During this conversation a young boy with severe Autism, who rarely acknowledges people, presents Amy with a drawing of a butterfly. The two old women encourage Amy to give Maggie all the love she can as Maggie is very sick and desperately needs love and care. When Amy arrives back at the hospital she discovers that Maggie has had another attack which she recovers from although she is left weak.

Back at Mercy Falls, the children watch a film of the Sleeping Beauty and Amy tells Helen and Mrs. Folder about Susan's death. Folder is dismissive of ghost storys but Helen seems to be withholding knowledge of Susan's state of mind. Later Maggie and Amy discuss the film and Maggie says that she thinks that the reason the Prince could wake Sleeping Beauty was because he truly loved her and true pure love kisses have special power.

Amy asks Roy to show her the files of the other children who'd mentioned Charlotte. All of these children are deceased and Amy knows that Maggie must be very close to death. Later, Roy is packing up the wooden blocks when he is attacked by an unseen assailant who throws him backwards out of the window, killing him.

Amy decides to go up to the second floor through a hidden trapdoor in the ceiling which Maggie shows her. Noticing a drawing of a butterfly on one of the doors which is identical to the drawing given to her by the psychic boy, Amy enters one of the rooms and finds an old photograph of a girl in a wheelchair with a nurse, and a film-reel which shows this girl on a medical treatment for osteogenesis imperfecta. On the back of the photograph is written "Charlotte and Mandy, 1959." At this point Charlotte begins to materialise and Maggie comes to get Amy in order to prevent her being harmed. As they escape Maggie drops her 'Mr Sleepy'.

Using Roy's projector, Amy and Dr. Robert view the film. Robert tells her the disease Charlotte suffered from was very painful, a sickness that causes the patient's bones to be very susceptible to fractures. The treatment for it back then was primitive and barbaric. Doctors had built a metal frame for Charlotte to wear that was connected to tubes implanted throughout the child's body in the hopes of strengthening the structure of her bones. Amy now believes Charlotte is the angry and uncontrollable ghost of the little girl who is hurting the children. She searches the records with Robert's help but no child called Charlotte existed. She warns Helen and Robert to get the children ready to leave and goes to find help.

Mrs. Folder relents and tells Amy about the reason why the upstairs ward was closed. The nurse caring for the little girl had become obsessed with her. When the treatments began to work and the child improved enough to no longer need to remain in hospital, she'd begun to purposely break the girl's bones and eventually murdered the child. She then put on the child's metal frame and jumped into the elevator shaft, killing herself. When they arrive at the hospital, Robert shows Amy a file he has found which proves that "Mandy" is the child's name and "Charlotte" is the obsessed nurse. Amy realizes that Charlotte wants the children.

The hospital starts falling apart because of Charlotte's rage as the staff desperately try to evacuate the children. As help arrives, Amy realizes that everything is suddenly calm, and Mrs. Folder says that Maggie is missing. Amy realises that Maggie went to get her 'Mr Sleepy' and runs to the abandoned ward. Weak and exhausted, Maggie is in Mandy's old room. Despite Charlotte's presence, Amy determinedly picks up Maggie and tries to reach the trapdoor but Charlotte causes the floor to destablise and Amy's leg is impaled by a piece of metal, causing major bleeding. As the two escape the second floor by jumping through the trapdoor, Maggie succumbs to her illness and stops breathing. Despite Amy's desperate attempts, the little girl dies in her arms. Amy then also collapses from blood loss.

Robert futilely tries to revive her but Amy's heart stops beating. As the medical team step back, we see Maggie's ghost give Amy a pure love kiss and Amy begins to breathe again. The movie ends as Amy wakes up in a different hospital with Robert at her side. An elderly dying man who passes by the door sees Maggie's smiling ghost sitting by Amy's bedside- staying close to what she loved best in life.

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