‘Shattered’ is an Underrated Erotic Thriller [Watch]


Welcome to The Overlooked Motel, a place where under-seen and unappreciated films are given their moment in the spotlight. I hope you enjoy your stay here and find the accommodations to be suitable. Now, please take a seat and make yourself comfortable, I have some misbehaving guests to ‘correct’.   

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This week’s selection is a severely underrated giallo-esque thriller from the late Wolfgang Petersen (The NeverEnding Story). Shattered (based on the book Plastic Nightmares) is an erotic thriller that takes inspiration from Hitchcock, De Palma, and the over-the-top giallo mysteries of yesteryear. The flick has been all but forgotten in the decades since its 1991 theatrical exhibition but I am convinced that Shattered is primed for rediscovery by the right audience. 

The film follows Dan Merrick (Tom Berenger of The Substitute) as he awakens from a coma, following a major car accident. Upon returning to consciousness, Dan learns he has a case of psychogenic amnesia. Essentially, he’s lost all memory of any personal details but remembers how to walk, talk, or drive a car. As Dan struggles to put the broken pieces of his life back together, he is plagued by strange and troublesome recollections of which he can’t quite make sense. He comes to suspect that his wife Judith (Greta Scacchi) may have been having an affair and simultaneously plotting his untimely demise.

In a desperate attempt to discern the truth about his life before the accident, Dan enlists the services of a private investigator (Bob Hoskins). What the PI finds leaves Dan with even more questions. But one thing is for sure: Absolutely nothing is what it seems.  

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The central mystery within Shattered is compelling and the road to the denouement is winding and unpredictable. There is an air of paranoia throughout this neo-noir thriller. Although all the answers are somewhere within Dan’s mind, he can’t quite piece them together. So, when he receives conflicting accounts from those closest to him, it becomes clear that someone is lying. And the inherent distrust that distinction conjures creates a palpable sense of tension that is likely to keep the audience on the edge of their seat.

In staying true to its giallo influences, Shattered has a bonkers twist ending that may not be entirely plausible but it certainly serves as a clever and unexpected reveal. I was caught squarely off guard upon my inaugural viewing of Shattered and I still view the twist as a clever, albeit outrageous, conclusion upon repeat visits. Like most of the film, you may have to suspend your disbelief to get the most bang for your buck. But that should be no problem for giallo enthusiasts.

In addition to a great mystery with giallo overtones, Shattered also benefits from entertaining characters. Berenger turns in a solid performance in the lead role. And Corbin Bernsen (The Dentist) is equally enjoyable as his shady business partner. Also worthy of note is Bob Hoskins as private investigator/pet store proprietor Gus Klein. Klein fulfills that hardboiled detective prototype and brings some neo-noir energy to the film. He also delivers some great comedic dialogue and serves as a quirky and inherently likable sidekick of sorts.  

Also See: ‘The Sentinel’ is An Underrated and Surreal Experience [Watch]

Shattered is a perfect example of a film that hasn’t really found its audience. It wasn’t particularly successful at the box office and I don’t think mainstream critics quite knew what to make of it. But I suspect that has something to do with the fact that Shattered lacks some of the sophistication of Hitchcock or De Palma and leans into the incoherent and illogical more than some critics (and moviegoers) may have preferred. But this is a film I am quite convinced anyone that enjoys the intersection of the surreal and the macabre will enjoy. It may be a little campy but Shattered is a hell of a lot of fun for what it is. And what it is, is an erotic, escapist thriller that will surely check a lot of boxes for the right audience.

If you’re keen to check out Shattered for yourself, you can stream it for free (with ads) on Tubi, as of the publication of this post. 

That’s all for this installment of The Overlooked Motel. If you want to chat more about under-seen and underrated films, feel free to hit me up with your thoughts on Twitter @FunWithHorror



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