The Broken (2008)

APRIL 9, 2009

GENRE: PSYCHOLOGICAL, SUPERNATURAL
SOURCE: DVD (ONLINE RENTAL)

How tired was I after a day at the courthouse (for those of you just tuning in - I’m on jury duty)? I fell asleep during the opening credits of The Broken. Has to be a record for me. Longtime readers know that I’m borderline narcoleptic, but I’m pretty sure I’ve never nodded off before the opening credits were through. I’m still waiting for the day where I fall asleep before the start menu appears.*

So I rewound it, and once again - I dug the movie. It could have been a lot better, but it lucks out from the existence of Mirrors, a mostly lousy movie that also featured murderous reflections. Unlike that movie, this one actually has some decent creepy/suspenseful moments, a lead performance with some effort (unlike Kiefer Sutherland in that film, Lena Headey is NOT simply playing her FOX television character here), and - this may be a problem for some - a lack of nonsensical backstories.

Of course, there isn’t ANY backstory at all. Why the mirror people appear and begin killing their doppelgangers is never explained, and keeping with After Dark 3 traditions, there isn’t a commentary to add some insight into the matter (this one doesn’t even have the standard 15 minute making of!). But I actually didn’t mind it - I’m pretty sure no one can ever give a decent explanation for why/how our mirrors are trying to kill us, so I guess it’s not even worth wasting time to try.

Instead, writer/director Sean Ellis keeps the film relatively grounded, not to mention quiet. It’s hardly an action packed movie anyway, but I can’t recall the last time I saw a movie that was so willing to shut the fuck up. There isn’t a lot of long dialogue passages, and score/sound effects are kept to a minimum as well. Even when an evil reflection appears behind a character, it doesn’t mean we get a loud musical sting to alert the folks who had stopped paying attention (or, in my case, nodded off).

One blemish though - Ellis’ insistence on flashing back to a key automobile accident that occurs relatively early in the movie. OK, we get it: Headey can’t stop thinking about it. We don’t need to see it over and over (it doesn’t help that the Headey dummy is pretty bad, so to go out of your way to show it so many times, often in slow motion, is just stupid).

There’s a scene where Headey gets locked in the London subway, despite having just taken the tube there. Since this also happened in Creep, I have to wonder - does the London subway system routinely trap its riders inside the stations? I mean, I understand that the trains stop running at a certain time, but these movies make it seem like they lock the exits up even BEFORE that point. So many characters dead because the night watchman wanted to duck out early...

Richard Jenkins is also in this movie. You don’t see him popping up in many genre films (you gotta go back to Wolf for such a thing), and he lends the film a touch of class. Unfortunately, his role (like many of the others) is underwritten, and the movie doesn’t really give him much to do. Since the plot is left rather unexplained, the least Ellis could do is bulk up the character development, but he kind of drops the ball there too.

But again - it’s all about the impressively quiet scares, and the fact that the mirror people are actually kind of creepy. I also dug how Ellis avoided the usual clich├ęs as much as possible. Of course there’s a scene where a reflection suddenly diverges from its owner and does something scary, but it turns out to be a nightmare. Otherwise, reflections are surprisingly AVOIDED at times. There’s a part where Headey is trapped in the bathroom, and there’s not a single shot of the mirror reflecting her or anything else of importance. That’s unprecedented!

I now have two films left on the After Dark 3. Unless they are total shit, I think I can confidently say that this is the best year yet. The films are more interesting and less generic, and the filmmakers seem to be a more capable lot. I may not have loved any of them as much as Gravedancers (year 1) or Mulberry St (year 2), but I’d rather eight films in the B, B+ range than one or two As amidst a sea of Ds and Fs.

What say you?

*Anyone notice something awesome about this batch of Lionsgate DVDs? You can finally skip over their logo! For years, you’ve had to endure the “opening gates with all the chains and gears around” logo everytime you put in and/or start watching one of their discs. But you can get right to the main menu on these discs, as long as you hit menu or chapter forward.

10 comments:

  1. I've been avoiding this film, but now I actually want to see it. Thanks!

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  2. I noticed the Lionsgate logo thing too. LOL.

    I can't say I liked The Broken myself, but I did enjoy the fake looking crash test dummy scene and especially when I saw Lena Heady go all full frontal nude for us.

    What a MILF to the leader of the human resistance!

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  3. I reckon that mirrors are trying to kill us because they're just sick of seeing us. I mean, if you just saw the same wall and the same face everyday, wouldn't you want to kill someone?

    I don't understand why there are only one or two people on Tube trains in all these films. I was on the Tube on Monday and it was busy and the train stations are usually open all night anyway. Doesn't make sense.

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  4. Good review of this quiet little film. Definitely one of the better After Dark films. The only thing for me was that after the it was over I kept thinking that this story could have been told in a far more effective way in 10 minutes. Probably a better short film idea than a feature length film.

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  5. This was a good movie... Although, I did have to rewind it once, it's not a work and watch kind of movie... it demands your full attention.

    Nothing like remorseful, killing mirror people with memory loss.

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  6. No point in wasting 88 minutes to see a movie with no actual explanation, no food for imagination, no room for explanations... It was a quite good movie until it... ended and left us wondering where the other half of the movie has gone...! Probably the writer began to write it and then got bored and left it where he left it... totally unfinished!!!

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  7. I thought i.d missed the point of this film. Thankyou for pointing out there wasnt any. Saved me watching it again to see if i.d somehow fallen asleep whilst watching it without realising. Pretty god damn crap really.

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  8. The explanation belongs to the watcher... maybe there is a message behind the mirror people. Maybe what it means is that we happily kill ourselves polishing the image we want to display to the world, getting rid of the old "US". It's kind of frustrating but knowing makes you think...

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  9. Maybe the meaning belongs to the watcher... we spend our lives trying to look like somebody else, like what society expects from us. Also, the mirror people don't seem to have any doubts about what they have to do or what they are meant to be, they play their part and that's it.
    It might be frustrating for some people but it's somehow more clever to let them think by themselves instead of serving them the answer on a plate like in a lot stories.

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  10. Terrible movie, a total waste of time sadly

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