30 Second Review: Broken (2006)
This one really surprised me. When I sat down to watch this I thought I was in for another shitty torture-porn flick. But through strong performances and a SUPER dark atmosphere and feel, BROKEN is miles above the typical torture-porn flick. I really liked this movie. A lot. This is everything that is right with genre movies today. We have a claustrophobic feel (which is odd because the movie takes place out in the woods); there’s only two main characters for about 90% of the movie; we get great character development; and there’s extreme scenes of violence that are a part of the story and not just tagged on.
The movie opens with a single mom Hope (Nadja Brand) coming home from yet another disastrous date. She sends the babysitter home, checks and kisses on her young daughter Holly (Abbey Stirling), and then goes to bed. When Hope wakes up she finds herself bound up in the woods and quickly realizes that she and her young daughter have been abducted by some survivalist nut bag (don’t ya just hate when that happens?). We never learn his name and simply know him as The Man (Eric Colvin). In addition to being nameless, The Man barely speaks 10 words the entire movie and we never really learn his motivations. It’s great!! But I’ll be damned if he doesn’t give one of the most intense, frightening performances in modern horror!! What makes him so menacing is the fact he’s such a cryptic character.
The Man puts Hope through a series of tortures to “break” and make her submit to him willingly. The Man has her cooking, tending the garden, and satisfying his physical desires. It seems at first that The Man actually broke Hope (which, by the way is a perfect name for her). She seems to willingly be living with him in the deep woods and doing all her chores in a submissive way. Just wait until you see her “submit” sexually to him!! But we learn she’s enduring all his crap and basically playing along in order to find out where her daughter is. Hell; Hope doesn’t even know if Holly is still alive!!
Nadja Brand does a fantastic job of a woman struggling to hold onto hope(!!) while enduring torture after torture. She’s an incredibly strong female character whose will is not easily broken. I love her character. But what really stands out is how dark and hopeless everything feels here. Writer-directors Simon Boyes and Adam Mason create one of the grimmest and most hopeless feeling flicks I’ve ever experienced. Nothing is ever shown in flashbacks but you just know that The Man has done this before and he knows what he’s doing. About halfway through the film, The Man kidnaps another girl and puts her through similar tortures as Hope. But this new girl isn’t nearly as strong as Hope and The Man breaks her quickly. It’s tough to watch; really tough. But how Hope ends up confronting The Man is extremely well-done and believable. It’s tense, graphic, and brutal. This is a really great flick. When Hope finally figures out where The Man is holding her daughter you finally thing we’re in for a small glimmer of hope and redemption here. Not a chance … that’s all I’m gonna say about it. You’re gonna just have to experience the ending for yourself. But fuck me Boyes and Mason; couldn’t you have let even one tiny little ray of sunshine penetrate this flick? Who am I kidding; you know I love dark, depressing endings!! This is a great flick that you need to see.
Directors: Simon Boyes and Adam Mason (and writers)
Plot: 4 out of 5 stars
Gore: 7 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer