Directed by Simon Boyes and Adam Mason
Written by Simon Boyes and Adam Mason
Original Music by Emma Holand, Gavin Miller, and Mortiis
Starring Nadja Brand, Eric Colvin, Atesh Salih, and Abbey Stirling
2007/90 mins/Color/Dolby Digital 2.0
1.33:1/English/UK/PAL Region 2
Review from the Revolver Entertainment DVD
Much has been made in the mainstream media about the incursion of “torture porn” movies. With the success of Saw and Hostel specifically, the inevitable copycat movies have appeared to saturate the local video store shelves. At this point in the cycle, it is hard to imagine anything new that could be done with the kidnapping and torture premise, but the independent English movie, Broken purports to be a fresh take on the tired genre.
And to some extent, the movie works. Shot on what was obviously a low budget, Broken tells the story of a single mother of a six-year old girl who is looking to re-enter the dating world. After a reasonably successful date, the young mom returns to her flat, tucks her child in and goes to bed. When she awakes, she finds herself trapped in a coffin-size box in the middle of the woods with no idea where her daughter is or if she is alive or dead. From there, a nightmarish ordeal begins with her captor torturing, humiliating, and assaulting her for days on end. All the while, the victim struggles to find out what the psychopath has done with her child and how she can escape his clutches.
Broken interestingly switches tone from the obviously Saw-inspired first act to a more character-driven middle act where the captor and victim interact and develop. Unfortunately these character moments collapse under the weight of the performances, especially Eric Colvin as the murderous “Man.” He sneers, widens his eyes, and generally looks the part, but he unable to portray the hair-trigger danger that the character should provide. Nadja Brand tries hard as the victimized mother (aptly named “Hope”), but she also seems to struggle fully surrendering to the character.
Part of the acting problems may have to do with the script itself. Some of the plot points in Broken simply do not make sense. This is especially true of the second act, and the finale, while completely brutal and disturbing, feels tacked on for shock value. till, the story moves along fairly well for being such a minimalist production, and if the viewer can overlook some of the illogical character behaviors, it is a compelling, and often disturbing story both physically and psychologically. The great forest location also adds some needed atmosphere, and provides enough tension to offset the previously mentioned flaws.
What Broken lacks in story and acting, it more than makes up in gore and brutal violence. Boyes and Mason obviously enjoy the red stuff, and they are not afraid to show it all on the screen. From intestinal spillage, to tongue head, and eye violence, the directors certainly let the gore-times roll. Although the middle act is relatively blood-free, the bookend acts provide enough crimson to keep most gore hounds satiated.
Broken snaps onto DVD from Revolver Entertainment in an acceptable 1.85:1 format. The picture suffers from some artifacting in spots, and some of the transfer seems too dark with heightened black levels often losing some of the image, which is understandable since the movie was obviously filmed using a mini-DV. The Dolby Digital stereo audio track is uninspiring but adequate.
In the end, Broken is a good attempt at combining the effective elements of other torture movies before it with a more intelligent character-driven horror story. It is often brutal, nasty, and disturbing, and aside from some problems with the script and performances, it is fairly effective.
This Film Features:
Review by Jamie Smith. All Right Reserved. 2007. ©