|release date||March 31 2009|
|studio||After Dark Films|
|starring||Lena Headey, Richard Jenkins, Melvil Poupaud, Ulrich Thomsen, Michelle Duncan, Asier Newman|
|trailer 1||Trailer #1|
Sean Ellis’ THE BROKEN was one of the two films I was looking forward to more than anything at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, and after three straight disappointments I was praying for something good. Maybe it was because I had just sat through nearly five hours of crap, or maybe not, but for the most part I thoroughly enjoyed this mind-bending thriller starring Lena Headey… even though the ending is one of the worst in years.
The film follows Gina McVey (Lena Headey) as a woman whose life descends into nightmare after she sees an apparent double of herself driving by in her own car.
In a world filled with bad twists and overly ambitious writing, it’s no surprise that THE BROKEN’s screenplay isn’t much more than mediocre. Obviously written from the twist backwards, doing so creates many plotholes and ultimately creates two films in one. From the beginning up until the final 15-minutes I was completely engulfed in the story, but like the title, the screenplay is a bit broken… or shattered if you will. The finale is easily one of the lamest, cheesiest and obviously forced twist endings in a long time. Ellis’ screenplay reminds me of a typical Shyamalan story where he might have had a twist in mind but by the time the story is laid out on the table it should have been changed to fit more organically into the entire film. But in his defense there are also some wonderful devices placed throughout the film such as his use of mirrors, which become a horrific object used throughout. Mirrors are scary when on the wall, when in the background, when being looked into, when crashing to the floor, when lying on the floor… you get the idea.
Negating that the end of the movie is terrible, THE BROKEN is truly phenomenal in every aspect. Sean Ellis is an extremely talented director who I believe will be a big name one of these days. His masterful work of the camera blended with stunning sound design/score creates such an immense amount of tension you won’t believe it. Ellis also understands that the use of SILENCE can be even more effective than any sound you can imagine. There are two or three golden moments where the silence is used to build tension and then BAM he hits you with a genuinely good scare. Ellis also uses lighting as if he grew up watching Alfred Hitchcock films – some of the most magnificent moments are the way he lights up the characters eyes in dark rooms. On all other accounts BROKEN carries a few really gory scenes and one of the scariest 30-seconds ever to be hit the big screen. Ellis uses the cliché of mirrors opening and closing to build suspense in what will probably be one of the most talked about horror scenes of the year.
With a strong direction, cast, cinematographer and (most) of the script, THE BROKEN is thus far the best film I’ve seen at Sundance. If the finale wasn’t so (unfortunately) forced this could have been the film to beat, but the ending is so incredibly “out there” that it’s sure to piss off 99% of the people who see it – and my mother always told me that the last thing you want to do is leave on a bad note.