Reviewed by Johnny Butane
Starring Lena Headey, Richard Jenkins, Asier Newman, Melvil Poupaud
Directed by Sean Ellis
I’d heard some fairly positive things about The Broken via it’s festival screenings, but had never got a chance to see it until After Dark brought it to screens as part of this year’s Horrorfest. Because of the positive buzz, I was willing to give it the benefit of the doubt when it started out pretty slow; some had compared it to Hitchcock, and I kept that in mind.
After about 30 minutes, though, the pacing started to wear on me. 50 minutes and I was dead tired. This was following up the excruciatingly dull “>Slaughter (review), keep in mind, so I was really not in the mood for something paced so … deliberately, to put it nicely.
The story follows a radiologist name Gina (Headey) who has a pretty good life, all things considered. Nice family, sweet boyfriend, all that sort of thing. Then one day, while at a phone booth, she sees a woman who looks exactly like her drive by in her Jeep. She follows the Jeep to this person’s apartment, only to discover that whoever this person is has a picture of her and her father in her apartment. We believe she’s about to confront this possible doppelganger when suddenly; we cut to a scene of Gina driving away. Did she leave before she could find out who this imposter is? Will she freak out about having seen her twin? What will her family know about it?
Well, we never get solid answers to any of those questions as she gets in a car accident on the way home, one which she survives but looses a good chunk of her short-term memory because of. This freaks her out, as does the odd behavior of her boyfriend and … well, that’s about it, actually. She doesn’t see her double again, and proceeds to wander slowly from one scene to another, most of which are punctuated by an ear-splittingly loud crescendo that does nothing but annoy by the third or fourth time.
At it’s heart there are some good ideas in The Broken but, as I said in the beginning, it’s very, very slow in revealing those ideas. And the worst part is, when it does, nothing at all is done with them. We finally figure what’s been going on, yes, but not why or what any of it means, a fact that’s especially annoying considering, again, how long it took us to get there.
In terms of direction and other specifics, all is nice and stylish with enough visual flairs to show that Ellis is confident behind the camera, but most of that is brought down a notch or two because of the pacing. It doesn’t help, either, that Headey barely speaks throughout the entire movie; she just wanders around looking kind of confused about what’s going, though never overly concerned; or at least not as concerned as you or I would be.
All in all, The Broken certainly had the potential to be a very cool movie but got bogged down by direction that was borderline apathetic in its approach. You can tell that Ellis was trying very hard to build tension throughout, but fell short by never giving enough to allow you to care about the characters or the situations they’re in.
The Broken is certainly not the worst thing After Dark has ever put on screen via Horrorfest, but it sure as hell is one of the slowest.
2 out of 5
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