Producers: Claudia Bluemhuber, Veronica Ferres, John Malkovich and Luis Prieto Director: Luis Prieto Screenplay: David Loughery Cast: Cameron Monaghan, Frank Grillo, Lilly Krug, Sasha Luss, Ridley Bateman, Ash Santos, James C. Burns, Dat Phan, David Madison and John Malkovich Distributor: Saban Films
“Misery” is leavened with identity theft in Luis Prieto’s old-fashioned erotic thriller, in which colorless Cameron Monaghan plays the victim, Chris Decker, a wealthy home-security mogul recently separated from his wife Jamie (Sasha Luss), with whom he has a darling daughter, Willow (Ridley Bateman). One night he meets, apparently by accident at a grocery store, sultry blonde Sky (Lilly Krug), and the two quickly become passionate.
One night after Chris has tracked Sky down at her waitress job, he’s seriously injured when they encounter a guy trying to break into his car, and his leg is fractured. Sky proves anxious to help him after he returns from the hospital to his modernist mansion wheelchair-bound; she’s also understandably none too eager to return to the scruffy pad she shares with a zonked-out roommate (Ash Santos) in a run-down motel owned by an inquisitive fellow named Ronald (John Malkovich, typically twitchy), so she moves in as Chris’s caretaker.
But Sky soon shows her true colors. She intends to hold Chris prisoner and force him to sign over his portfolio to her. And she brings in help, in the person of snarling Sebastian (ubiquitous Frank Grillo, doing his bad-guy shtick).
Others are, of course, introduced into the house as Chris struggles to get free. Ronald shows up, of course, determined to profit from his suspicions about Sky. So do Jamie and Willow, unexpectedly. But Sky might be a match for all of them.
There are some clever touches to the movie, mostly courtesy of the production design by Madeleine O’Brien, which incorporates into Decker’s mansion the extravagant security devices he’s made his riches from (which, naturally, become an important element in his effort to outfox her), and the music score, which, apart from Tom Howe’s rather generic go-for-excitement tracks, employs the bursts of classical music (Beethoven, mostly) Chris has built into his sound system as another means of trying to divert Sky’s attention. (As the final credits roll, Howe also switches abruptly to a sweet tune accented by piano and glockenspiel-like tinkling that seems incongruous after all the mayhem.)
Directed without much gusto by Prieto (Halle Berry’s 2017 misfire “Kidnap”) from a script by David Loughery, a veteran screenwriter whose early work straddled multiple genres but who has specialized in lurid thrillers over the past decade, “Shattered” doesn’t generate many chills or thrills, (partially because Juanmi Azpiroz’s cinematography is so dank (especially at the close, when the darkness makes it difficult to discern who’s doing what to whom), and Federico Conferti’s editing is rather slapdash). And it resorts to an especially dreary cliché at the very end, when a bullet in the back, delivered by the unlikeliest of characters, fells the villain just as she’s about to strike a fatal blow (though an earlier one, in which Decker’s escape attempt is suddenly foiled, runs it a close second).
Nor does the movie ask much of its cast save for Krug (advertised as being “introduced” here, though she appeared in last year’s “Every Breath You Take”), who’s tasked with scenery-chewing that might make any young actress blush. Monaghan suffers and grimaces, and Grillo does his usual sneering routine, but not even Malkovich, leaning heavily on his aptitude for snideness and sniveling, can make much of an impression.
There’s nothing in this nasty little thriller that hasn’t been done before, and better.