Tell me if you’ve heard this one: A single(ish) man begins a sexual affair with an incredibly young, hot woman that’s just a little too good to be true.
It’s a familiar premise in any number of erotic thrillers and neo-noirs; it’s also the log line of the new thriller Shattered.
The film, written by David Loughery and directed by Luis Prieto, doesn’t stray too far from formula with the story of Chris Decker (Cameron Monaghan, Shameless, Gotham), a wealthy young divorcee who strikes up an affair with a woman in a grocery store. Sky (Lily Krug), a down on her luck model and barkeep, is fun and flirty; she’s even up for some only-in-the-movies tantric sex on the first date.
Naturally Chris falls hard for her, despite all of the red flags that the audience can see coming a mile away, including a roommate, Lisa (Ash Santos), who is more than just a roommate, and an intense curiosity in how Chris’s high tech, isolated house works.
If the first act of Shattered is too obvious by half, it’s merely table setting for the middle act, when Sky reveals her true intentions and the film veers into fun Misery-lite territory. There’s some surprisingly gnarly gore as Sky proves that she’s willing to go to extremes to get what she wants from an imprisoned, incapacitated Chris. Think Eli Roth’s Knock Knock with slightly less bite.
This is also when Sky’s former motel landlord Ronald (John Malkovich) becomes a more active agent in the narrative. The famed thespian is in-full “camping it up for the money” mode, delivering a performance on par to his trashy Netflix duo, Bird Box and Velvet Buzzsaw. Thankfully his character is clearly a walking Red Shirt so it’s merely a matter of biding our time to see how Sky dispatches him.
Another genre favourite, Frank Grillo, pops up unexpectedly in the third act, which unfortunately is also the weakest. If the first act consists of obvious, but enjoyable table setting and the second act of delightfully unexpected gonzo mayhem, the climax devolves into a relatively rote “family in danger” film. There’s some interesting visual work from director Prieto to tap into the abilities of smart homes & phones to escalate the cat and mouse antics, but the outcome is far too predictable.
What keeps the film eminently watchable is Krug, who effortlessly oscillates between hot party girl and ruthless killer thief. Krug turns what could have been a generic, overly simplistic role into a highly entertaining femme villain for audiences to root for. If anything her performance is so enjoyable that she inadvertently subverts the film’s paint-by-numbers outcome; it’s hard to root against such a charming, dangerous sociopath…especially when the only other option is Chris’s cuckolded yuppie, his estranged wife (Sasha Luss) and their toddler daughter.
That’s not a knock against Monaghan. He’s perfectly serviceable in the role, particularly when Shattered shifts Chris from “sexy tech guy in glasses” to “emasculated, whiny male” in the middle portion of the film. Chris’ spitting rage and despair against Sky is what keeps the film’s verging-on-campy energy afloat, even when the script succumbs to the familiar conventions of the erotic thriller subgenre.
It’s just hard to root against a bad girl, especially when she’s having this much fun.
The Bottom Line: Shattered is a perfectly serviceable, albeit mostly predictable erotic thriller with a stand-out performance by Lily Krug. Audiences will see (nearly) every twist coming a mile away, but overall this is a breezy, entertaining watch.
Shattered is out in theatres and VOD on Jan 14; DVD and Blu on Feb 22.