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Completing my eight-film tour of the debuting "Fangoria FrightFest" line, I had saved the two Spanish, medical-themed ghost stories for last: "The Haunting" and "Fragile."

The former, my son and I found so boring, we admitted defeat and couldn't finish it. The latter, much better. In fact, for a picture titled "Fragile" "? not to mention something that's been awaiting release for half a decade "? it's pretty darn sturdy.

Mrs. Indiana Jones herself, Calista Flockhart, plays nurse Amy Nicholls, who's brought to a spooky old children's hospital in midst of a transition. Befitting the project's horror vein, she works the night shift, and not long after she begins to help transfer the kids there to a bigger, better site, weird things start happening, as in ear-bursting sounds, poltergeist activity and whatnot.

One young patient, Maggie (Yasmin Murphy), blames Charlotte, a mysterious girl upstairs that the staff believes imaginary. Well, she's not, and when we finally see Charlotte ... let's just say she has a face only a mother could love.

Director/co-writer Jaume Balagueró (best known for "[REC]," which became the American "Quarantine") builds the first two-thirds of this picture with a slow burn, allowing viewers to get settled — as much as they can — in the setting's wealth of atmosphere before unleashing the beast for a fast, full-on finale.

Its most hair-raising moment, featuring wooden blocks and a rather unfortunate African-American character, may be the scariest scene to involve spelling since Mia Farrow screwed around with Scrabble in "Rosemary's Baby." Flockhart opens her peepers a bit too wide to express shock, but she's sympathetic and believably maternal toward Maggie, and has good rapport with co-star Richard Roxburgh.

For a, um, "spiritual" experience, "Fragile" is a good bet ... unless you cringe at the sight of protruding and/or fracturing bones. —Rod Lott


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