It seems like every single day, run-of-the-mill psychological action-thrillers with little inventiveness or reason to care hit the VOD landscape in search of adoration from whoever might give them a chance. It’s a filmmaker’s plight, no matter the genre. No shame there. Now today—just like every other day, it seems—another movie like all the rest of its kind was released: Shattered. I’ll cut to the point: There wasn’t anything special about this film, and it really is a shame, because I thought the cast might save the tired script and unimaginative directing. But no, Shattered is as commonplace as they come in the genre.
Shattered follows rich tech nerd Chris (Cameron Monaghan), who finds an instant connection with a pretty blonde named Skye (Lilly Krug) whom he meets on a late-night supermarket run. After he gets jumped by a criminal during one of their dates, she also takes on the task of helping him recover from a broken leg. She seems amazing, until an onset of strange behavior perhaps signals more sinister things to come.
As you may have expected—like I said, little inventiveness—Krug’s Skye ends up being batshit with murderous (among other) intentions, and it was definitely nice to see her be completely fearless with the character. She plays it quite well, and the audience quickly goes from thinking she’s sweet and cute (if a little strange here and there) to wanting her dead already. It’s a convincing portrayal, but it doesn’t do much to pull the film back from firmly boring territory. All the actors in this movie are committed, but it isn’t enough to save a lackluster plot.
Speaking of the committed actors, there is also a major, unforgivable sin to contend with in this movie: Casting the iconic John Malkovich as a completely useless character. The legendary actor plays Skye’s landlord at a rundown motel she’s been staying at, and while he’s a welcome presence in the film (I mean, duh), he isn’t put to good use whatsoever. The only real details we get about him are that he’s a landlord and he’s a pervert: He watches neighboring girls in their homes from a telescope he finds at Skye’s apartment. It’s not compelling in the context of this story and it certainly isn’t challenging for Malkovich. At his age, I want to see him pushing himself—after all, he’s built for it, and he’s more than capable. He does the best he can with what he’s given in this case, but there’s not much there to start with.
Naturally, the biggest flaw here—the one from which everything else stems—is the mediocre script. There isn’t anything new or exciting happening in this story, and the dialogue is just as dull. David Loughery’s writing isn’t necessarily bad, it just isn’t interesting, and when you’re doing this type of done-to-death B-movie, you need to bring something fresh to the table or else your film just fades away. If possible, Shattered’s absolutely boring direction is nearly a worse transgression than the lacking script. If the script isn’t going to shine, then the direction needs to swoop in with something innovative and different. There were no interesting shots or angles, no clever framing devices or cuts, no visually stimulating dream sequences or something equally ethereal.
This is a standard movie unambitiously attempting to be “a movie,” nothing further. I guess that works for some people, or that others just don’t mind the lack of nuance, but it’s hard for me to be excited about a film that has nothing to say, and nothing to show. Shattered is just like all the others of its kind—and that’s the nail in its coffin.
Director: Luis Prieto
Writer: David Loughery
Stars: Cameron Monaghan, Lilly Krug, John Malkovich, Frank Grillo
Release Date: January 14, 2022
Lex Briscuso is an entertainment, film and culture writer who eats, sleeps, and breathes exceptional horror, sweeping dramas, and top-notch acting. She is a news desk writer at /Film and has bylines at FANGORIA, The Guardian, Shudder’s The Bite and EUPHORIA. Her horror radio show, YOUR NICHE IS DEAD, is live Mondays 5pm ET. She tweets @nikonamerica.