Lena Headey (TV's TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES) stars in this disturbing horror film as a woman who glimpses someone who looks just like her. In her search for answers, she comes to the startling realization that her loved ones may be … see full wiki
I've seen all the past installments of "After Dark Horror Fest" ever since its inception, most of them weren't really that impressive so I decided not to watch 2008's horror outings. However, being a fan of sexy Lena Headey (300, "Sarah Connor Chronicles") I decided to check out "The Broken". Written/directed by Sean Ellis, the film explores certain aspects such as "existentialism" and delves into the mystery of doppelgangers. It also opens up with a quote from Edgar Allan Poe, and it pretty much sums up the film completely.
Gina (Lena Heady) is a young woman who works as a radiologist. One day, she spies upon a woman who looks exactly like her, driving her car, that leads her to follow the woman to an apartment, then a car accident. Gina seems to have lost most of her memory of the accident, with bits and pieces just showing up in her dreams and finds it a challenge to piece together what happened during and after that accident. Now, strange things begin to occur, and things don't seem right--her boyfriend doesn't seem like her boyfriend at all and she keeps on getting re-occurring nightmares. Everything felt out of place. Gina now undertakes a journey to find out the truth…
"The Broken" borrows elements from other horror films such as "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" and "Mirrors", but doesn't rely heavily on special effects. I would have to say that the film's main draw would have to be its gloomy atmosphere, mood and the great camerawork that emulates classic horror films. The cinematography by Angus Hudson is quite enthralling, not in the way that it generates scares but in the manner of which it manages to wrap you up in the proceedings. The film is focused mainly on Gina McVey and her journey through this mystery. The direction is competent enough to keep the viewer interested despite its slow-moving pace. The dialogue is restrained so that the viewer can take in the details through hints by the visuals.
I have mixed feelings about the plot that explores certain devices/keys that have been done numerous times before. There are certain existential themes laid out but certain elements aren't fully fleshed out. I love methodical cinema so believe me, I am not the type who only appreciates spoon-fed details. The film doesn't answer the why's and the how's, the most important thing is what exactly are these doppelgangers? I know the mirrors signify reflections of one's personality, so a broken mirror is the harbinger of doom? So let's say that these elements were intentionally left unexplored, after all, this is a sort of a supernatural film, so maybe it is acceptable and better than a weak explanation so long as it does lay down the necessary groundwork? Well, it does in some ways, but the twist is very predictable which sort of ruined its impact.
To its credit the film does have its share of creepy and grisly imagery. The scenes with the "dreams" with Stephan (Gina's boyfriend) altering his features to a demonic face is a good exercise in generating the protagonist's fears and confusion. There is just something ominous when someone drools that much while having sex with a woman. The shadowy foreboding imagery with Gina's dad (played by Richard Jenkins) is reminiscent of a classic horror film and you just know that the worst is about to happen. I enjoyed the scenes with Michelle Duncan in the shower as she confronted her own personal doppelganger--having an arm shoved down one's mouth adds for some visceral impact.
Lena Headey is good in the lead role, she genuinely looked convincing as the confused, paranoid Gina McVey. Much of her character is restrained but she makes the most of whatever she had to work with, which is mostly a reactionary role. Robert Jenkins is quite good and feels very real to his role as a father who shouldered the responsibility of a raising a family in a foreign land. A large part of me wanted the film to flesh out the supporting characters, and the fact that this mystery isn't just happening to this family was hinted at but never fully developed.
"The Broken" isn't a film for those looking for a fast-paced visually stunning horror feature and honestly, it may bore some viewers. It does attempt to pull off a cerebral experience and for that, I was thankful that it managed to avoid a certain perfunctory style so common in mainstream Hollywood horror. Certain elements in its composition are quite nice and it does have an unsettling feel. The film is a decent diversion but I really wanted to learn more about the doppelgangers and the parallel dimensions they may have come from, and their motivations; in this manner, the twist wouldn't have felt like a throw-away detail. This film had something nice and particularly special but sadly it didn't achieve it all--it came a little short of becoming a real success.
Recommended with caution, Rent it first. [3 ½ Stars]
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