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After a family get-together and the ominous incident of a wall mirror randomly shattering, strange events begin to unravel for the McVey family. Gina McVey (Lena Headey) spots someone looking exactly like her passing by in a car and, after following her doppelganger, discovers even more about the strange goings on. Unfortunately, before we get to find out the ins and outs, Gina has a car crash and her memory is fragmented leaving her with a sense that the people around her might not be as they seem.

The Broken is a movie that uses intrigue as its most powerful weapon. Literally from the get go it demands the audience keep asking questions. What’s with all the self shattering mirrors? Why does that spilt cup of coffee move so strangely? What’s going on with Gina’s boyfriend? And of course, what the hell if going on here?

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Writer/director Sean Ellis manipulates the events expertly and way above his seemingly low budget restraints. He weaves a rich, realistic and beautifully effective horror movie that is full of tension, suspense and shows a real sense of well delivered, well paced answers to keep the audience up to speed without giving the game away.

The entire movie feels great. Scenes blend into one another with a silent, slightly unsettling calm and the use of score is two thirds of the reason why this so damn tense and when this does turn into a real horror (about an hour into the film) it’s a hell of a payoff.

It also has to be said that Ellis struck gold casting Lena Headey. She is absolutely mesmerising in this movie. She pulls you in to her turmoil without screaming and by using only minimal dialogue—you really gain a sense of this character's confusion and worry without  it ever being rammed down your throat. In many ways it reminded me of Ripley in the first half of Alien 3 (and not just because of the red eye) as it's all quite internal and layered with a real sense of emptiness and both are performances I really enjoyed.

I wouldn't go as far as to say The Broken is original, with tensions stemming from the likes of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and its many remakes, and I also wouldn't say it was totally successful in its angle, mainly due to the big reveal being fairly guessable but as an entire package, The Broken impressed me a hell of a lot. It had me wanting to know the answers, and even though they are not totally laid out for the audience in regards to exactly what just occurred, I was satisfied nonetheless.  

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Video


Solid enough, but not really going out of its way to impress. The Broken is a cold film in its design, lots of pale hospital hallways and plain bathrooms add little to it being a visual treat but in regards to how it makes the movie feel it is very effective.

Many areas are quite dark and details are nothing to write home about but considering that this is small budget and is a movie that ain’t out to woo us with its visuals but rather play on the realism of everyday life, this works a hell of a lot better than most high budget flicks that try to look the same way.

Audio


As I said before The Broken is at least sixty percent reliant on its audio manipulation of its audience. The strong suspenseful score sneaks up on you a lot of the time and it totally effective at getting the heart pumping. The track also uses atmospheric noises wonderfully, using the rear speakers to have someone shuffling about in another room or merely to fill a tube station with the bustle of a crowd, it’s all extremely effective and a fine bit of 5.1 surround sound.

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Extras


Not too much to talk about here really. There’s a behind the scenes (22:16) with some on set raw footage and a batch of interviews (23:11) with most of the cast and the director Sean Ellis. The interviews are those annoying text questions on a black screen and the edited short answers from the cast, a lot of it is quite repetitive and the style always bores me before the end though there are a few bits of interest included here.

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Overall


I was quite surprised by how much I liked The Broken. I found it be an intelligent and different breath of fresh air in the current horror climate, even if it’s far from original. The performances are all solid and the direction is well handled and it is very effective at giving you the creeps without too many actual scares.


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