Horrorfest '08: The Broken (US - DVD R1)
Gabe Powers starts the new After Dark Horrorfest on a highish note...
If you look up Broken on IMDb.com you get twenty six matches. Twenty five have been released since 2000. That is an overused title, my friends, and as such gives us a general feel for the quality of the film we’re about to see. Ironically enough this film doesn’t show up, because its creators have crammed a ‘the’ in front of the word. This particular The Broken is all about the oft filmed subject of doppelgangers. Evil doppelgangers, to be exact, though there doesn’t seem to be any other kind. Think Invasion of the Body Snatchers minus the screaming and pointing aliens.
The Broken is a strangely studious and procedural film. One wonders if it wasn't for this tempered pacing, would the film run closer to thirty minutes. When a mirror shatters it shatters several times, edited to create the effect of a more violent and prolonged crash. When Gina first witnesses her doppelganger driving by the shot is repeated in varying speeds. When Gina is admitted to the hospital the process of admittance is covered in detail. The central car crash is replayed in slow motion from every conceivable angle, with an obsessive verve that would make David Fincher blush. Shots are repeated, and the motions are slow. Sometimes it works, and creates an eerie, almost beautiful look, while other times the effect is more unintentionally funny.
The script’s scope, much like The Deaths of Ian Stone last year, far exceeds its budgetary means, and instead of fully embracing a microcosm telling of a larger idea (ala Night of the Living Dead) there’s ineffective hinting at a generally frightening whole. Most audiences are going to outpace the storytelling, and find themselves drawing the correct conclusions, which is unfortunate. With a small rewrite, a perhaps less focused plot, a dash of ambiguity, and a couple million more bucks, The Broken might be a good movie. Things are so close to being good I’m almost want to suggest folks buy the film with the assumption that writer/director Sean Ellis gets a second chance. It’s technically a French/British production, so perhaps an American remake?
More of the same for Horrorfest fans—generally acceptable and clean presentations with no real frills or fuss. The Broken is a little darker than perhaps necessary, and loses some detail in the process, but contrast and lighting is usually balanced enough to ensure we still understand what we’re looking at. The cool colours are clean enough, and offset the occasional warm piece quite well. Noise and grain are present throughout, but mostly work to add texture.
The Broken uses a lot of near silence to tell its story, but things are extenuated with plenty of noise, so the Dolby Digital 5.1 track should give your system a decent workout. There are some good surround sound cues and scares peppered throughout the mix, adding some real suspense, and a bit of production value to an otherwise underwhelming film. The score is predictable and old fashioned, but also adds a lot of production value. On track the score is massive, perhaps a bit too much so, as it overtakes the centred dialogue track on a few occasions. Actually, the dialogue could’ve used a volume bump all around.
The Broken features the same ‘Miss Horrorfest’ webisodes that every disc in this collection holds, and a collection of Lionsgate trailers.
The Broken is one of the more handsome and well made films in this year’s Horrorfest collection, but it still lacks the spit polish that might’ve made for a genuinely good film. The look and acting is above average, but the story isn’t fully formed, and features too many elements borrowed from Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The twist is good, but if I could anticipate it from the second act, most other viewers are probably going to figure it out almost immediately.
Review by Gabriel Powers
Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian
Release Date: 31st March 2009
Disc Type: Single side, single layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English
Extras: Trailers, Miss Horrorfest Webisodes
Easter Egg: No
Director: Sean Ellis
Cast: Lena Headey, Richard Jenkins, Melvil Poupaud, William Armstrong, Ulrich Thomsen
Length: 93 minutes
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