Shattered is a sleazy erotic thriller knockoff, one that never realizes its camp potential but which boasts a few poor-taste pleasures along the way.
Hidden within the word “shattered” is the word “trash,” a fact which seems wholly appropriate for the new film Shattered, a ‘90s-style erotic thriller gussied up with a fresh coat of 21st-century techno gloss. Writer David Loughery is no stranger to this particular terrain, having penned such past mountains of sexy refuse as Lakeview Terrace, Obsessed, The Intruder, and Fatale, and Shattered is beset by the same problems as those misfires: namely, that Loughery tries to play the material both straight and with tongue firmly in cheek, resulting in a tonal mess that isn’t as fun as it could be — or perhaps thinks it is. Whereas truly gonzo performances from the likes of Samuel L. Jackson and Dennis Quaid helped to tip a few of those earlier films into the arena of camp, Shattered is saddled with the likes of Cameron Monaghan and Lilly Krug, actors too green to understand the type of material for which they’ve signed up. It doesn’t help that Monaghan, best known for his role as Ian Gallagher on Showtime’s long-running television series Shameless, looks and acts far too pubescent for the role of Christopher Decker, a tech-wizard who sold his home security app Watchdog for an obscene amount of money and who now lives alone in his mansion in the mountains of Colorado, his soon-to-be ex-wife and young daughter visiting only occasionally. A late-night ice cream run leads to an impromptu meeting with Sky (Krug), a gorgeous twenty-something who asks for a wine recommendation and, mere hours later, is party to the first of the film’s numerous graphic sex scenes. A freak accident days later leaves Christopher wheelchair-bound, with Sky offering to serve as his live-in nurse, her qualifications limited to a single line of dialogue: “I sleep with my patients.” But before you can say “malpractice,” Sky’s true intentions are revealed, as Shattered turns into yet another tale of a femme fatale who will stop at nothing to get what she wants.
Director Luis Prieto is no stranger to glossy thrillers, having helmed the truly wretched Halle Berry vehicle Kidnap in 2017. Shattered at least looks better than most other films of its ilk, an understanding of screen space and clever usage of its widescreen framing evident in nearly every shot. There’s also been real effort put into the look of the image itself, as the film pulls off a good impression of 35mm for the majority of its runtime, its use of lighting and color adding an old-school texture reminiscent of the erotic thrillers of yesteryear. Still, as beholden as Shattered is to that particular genre, it also makes quite clear that it’s a film of the times, with Christopher’s security app playing a crucial role in the proceedings — allowing Sky to keep him a prisoner in his mansion — while also being used to maximize the tension in the inevitable climactic one-on-one showdown. In a bid for cultural relevance, the film also flirts with the idea that Christopher’s one-percenter ass had this coming, his suffering a direct result of his indifference over those less economically advantaged. But this potentially interesting wrinkle is dropped before anything can come of it — “That’s sociopolitical bullshit!” bellows Christopher — but having seen Loughery’s bid at topicality in Lakeview Terrace, it’s probably for the best. Indeed, when Shattered isn’t spinning its tires in self-serious mode, it can be a lot of slick, trashy fun, even as it suffers from a villain who just isn’t that interesting. Krug does what she can given the material — there’s a scene where she was clearly directed to eat fried chicken in a way that can only be described as “malevolent,” and it turns out about as well as you can imagine — but she doesn’t have the chops to pull off what is truly needed to make this material sing, even as she slays a man at one point with a samurai sword while orgasmically moaning, Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 5” filling the soundtrack. It should also be noted that John Malkovich shows up as a pervy motel owner who jerks off while spying on a woman doing nude yoga, and while one might be tempted to view his presence as lending credibility, he also at one point mimics cunnilingus on a rose while wearing a neon ‘90s windbreaker. So yes, he is the best part of the movie. But while that bit of insanity is all well and good and the the film is often commendable for its commitment to playful sleaze and gratuity, making sure to include a shot where a comely suicide victim’s naked breasts are shown in a bathtub scans as mostly gross gazing. And when the film forces a child to commit a heinous act in its final moments, any potential fun therein is left to rot. Still, while such impeachable moments are too frequent here and Shattered isn’t otherwise a good movie by any stretch of the imagination, much like the erotic thrillers it attempts to ape, it manages to get the pulse racing a time or two, good taste be damned.