Thursday, May 5, 2011

Broken (2006)

All Broken Up About It

I consider myself a pretty intelligent film buff. Typically I can understand the point of a film, find hidden subtexts and can take both sides of an argument regarding it. However, Simon Boyes and Adam Mason’s Broken is one of those movies that comes along once in a while and makes me feel like a total mongo. Judging from most of the critic and user reviews I’ve read, I’m the only person who thinks ‘Broken’ isn’t a masterpiece, but an average survival-horror film. Then again, I think The Big Lebowski is a piece of shit, so what do I know?

On a very graphic note, Broken opens with a woman who is tied to a tree in the middle of the woods. She’s forced to open up a stitched wound in her stomach and fumble through her guts to find a razorblade which she uses to free herself from the ropes. Crawling on the ground, guts spilling out, a figure with a gun asks her if she’d like to continue. She pulls the trigger and kills herself. A few weeks later, Hope (Nadja Brand), a single mother, wakes up in the same situation. After opting to "continue" after the first test, Hope is chained to a tree by the killer and forced to do things like clean pots, grow plants and read gardening books. Scary, I know. She has no idea where her daughter is and her abductor only tells her that she doesn’t have one and that he is her family now. Almost a month passes and Hope learns to respect the elements around her, such as the beautiful flowers that she grows. Everything seems calm until the killer brings back a new and younger girl to endure the same fate as Hope.

It’s hard for me to say a lot that’s bad about this movie. I greatly respect the film and its creators because they made a very gory and quality film on a very low budget, (roughly 600,000 USD). That may sound like a lot to some, but filmmakers know that most of that goes to production costs, lawyers, actors, effects, crew, etc. The special effects are almost immaculate for such a low budget film. You won’t see realer gore in a mainstream horror film. I’m a pretty hard fucker to please when it comes to violence and I rarely wince during disturbing scenes, but the opening of this movie had me gritting my teeth in awe at how realistic the abdominal-search-party scene was. Talk about a stomach-turner! (For those of you who enjoy puns, I almost used talk about turning your stomach inside-out!)

For the most part, the acting is quite good. The second girl who is brought into the killer’s realm, however, screams so annoyingly loud and for such a long period of time, you can’t blame the killer for what he does to her. It’s actually a bit tongue-in-cheek, if you will.

And the ending. Oh my god. What a fucking ending. I can’t even explain it to you; you’ll just have to see it for yourself. Let’s just say that it will either make you love or hate this movie. It had me quite mixed for a while, but all in all, it proves the film’s point and though it may piss you off, it’s quite daring and unflinching. Bravo to that.

My main problem with the movie is that the entire setting takes place in one area of the forest where Hope is kept. I completely understand that it adds to the realism of capture and how it takes its toll on this poor woman, but running at almost two hours, the film starts to drag a little at points. At the same time, it’s hard to complain over that because that was obviously the filmmaker’s goal. As Hope is losing all faith in ever escaping, we start to feel the same way, especially when the movie reminds us what day of capture we are on. When it jumps to the thirties, we almost feel as if we have been chained there with her all along.

Again, reading my intro paragraph may lead you to think I hated this movie. I didn’t at all. In fact, I thought it was pretty damn good most of the time. But after reading dozens of reviews that considered Broken "a smarter Saw" and how nobody else seemed to mention the long duration of the film/slow points, I just don’t understand why I’m one of the few who find it slightly above average. Shave off a few minutes, add a bit more action and explanation and this movie could easily be Fixed.

 3/5 Stars

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