Good old-fashioned psychological thrillers are quite a rare beast these days. Films which prey on the mind with intelligent scripts and quality acting. Not to say there are not good films out there, but it seems ‘psychological’ these days means remakes or rip offs of various Asian films, most of them not very good.
Enter young director Sean Ellis, who reveals in an interview on the disc extras that he yearns for the old days of horror when Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist ruled the roost, and so decided to make a film along those lines. A brave move you would say – so does the director of the only film I know made in a Sainsbury’s store (Cashback) succeed?
Gina McVey (Headey) is the daughter of an American diplomat and works as a radiologist at the local hospital. We are introduced to her immediate family and boyfriend at her father’s Birthday celebrations. Suddenly, the mirror on the dining room falls to the floor and shatters. Joking that they are going to have seven years bad luck, Gina and her family have no idea what is going to happen over the next few days.
Whilst working in the radiology department, Gina’s colleague appears confused that she is still working when he thought he saw her going home a few moments earlier. Writing it off as a colleague getting it wrong, Gina heads off. Whilst traveling home Gina spots a woman who is apparently her ‘double’. Following her, Gina is surprised to find a photo in her ‘doppelganger’s flat of her and her father. Shortly after, she is involved in a head on collision and is hospitalised. Returning to her boyfriend Stefan’s flat, she becomes convinced that he is not her boyfriend at all, and becomes more confused as the film progresses.
Lena Headey, now famous for portraying Sarah Connor in The Sarah Connor Chronicles, has returned home to the UK and portrays the young woman. The central character in The Broken is pivotal to the success of the picture, and Headey more then holds her own and carries the entire proceedings on her shoulders. The role of Gina calls for the actress to play a character who has absolutely no idea what the hell is going on. In some films this is the sign for the actor to overact and in some cases ‘camp it up’. Headey plays the role dead straight, never acknowledging that she’s technically in a horror movie where the reputation of the lead actress in such films is to usually ‘look good’ and that’s about it.
Ellis wisely decided to shoot the film in a cinemascope ratio, and it does look very good, in particular the London Underground and the car crash scenes. The sound design is also commendable, featuring as it does one of the most effective mixes I have heard in a long time. The surrounds and LFE are kept busy throughout the film and – if you can – only watch the film with a surround set up, as two speakers will in no way do it justice.
I have deliberately not revealed any more of the plot after the appearance of the ‘double’, so as not to give anything away. The final 20 minutes or so of The Broken are brilliantly-edited and tie up a lot of loose ends. It features a terrific John Carpenter-style ending. Some will hate it, some will be confused and some will love it. It does however make you think; a nice change in genre cinema today.
Extras As per usual, Universal have put some trailers at the start of the DVD including the excellent Dark Water and Ellis’ own Cashback. Also included is a behind-the-scenes montage and some brief ‘EPK style’ interviews with the cast and director. These are dreadful, as they are very short and obviously hacked from longer interviews. Why can’t we have the full interview, Universal? Not that brilliant, considering the quality of the feature.
Film:Disc: The Broken is out now.