Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Broken (2008)

Scared of your own reflection?

An English radiologist named Gina gives her father a surprise birthday celebration and during the festivities a mirror suddenly breaks. She gets a strange feeling at work as if someone was in her office. Then on the way home, she spots a woman that looks identical to herself driving her same car. She follows the look alike and enters her apartment only to see a photo with her image and her fathers. Puzzled, she leaves but gets into a car wreck on the way out. Gina wakes up in the hospital with a fuzzy memory regarding the crash and a sneaking suspicion that her boyfriend, Stefan, is not really her boyfriend. The doctors call it Capgras Syndrome, which can result from a brain injury. With the help of a therapist, she unlocks bits and pieces surrounding the accident. From a dripping ceiling, to more mirrors being broken and others acting strangely to her, Gina sees danger at every turn where more people are out to get her due to a delusion made worse by the crash or something else.

"The Broken" is mainly a mystery/suspense film that for a share of it does the genre justice with little nuances and slight shifts that make those films so gripping. Revelations come about as it gradually paces itself and the audience is let on to more and more of its secrets. Unfortunately the growth of the plant slows down and it eventually squeezes less and less of the nectar out of its storyline. After a certain point it goes from a kind of Hitchcock-esque pacing to a sort of extended Twilight Zone-like episode that pulls out a magnifying glass and inspects a tainted situation underneath everyone else's nose. Its drawback is that it's too light on some of the rules and mechanics and then motivations for its antagonists, which makes it more easy than encapsulating the full potential that it could have been. It had every right to be a thoroughly challenging classic but didn't take it that extra few steps. I liked the engaging experience it laid out but the more it's thought about, the more it comes with contradictions.

If one can look past that, the film's major strength is getting full use of its surroundings with an atmosphere to lock a viewer into the direct moment. It's not everyday that films can make one forget their surroundings and responsibilities. It's to the point where every other person and object becomes suspicious and paramount as a result. A neat idea is employed with abrupt flashes to remember the past and some surreal imagery to translate Gina's troubled state. This uses basic but still powerful mechanics due to built-up anticipation and careful crafting beforehand, such as deja vu, sleeping next to someone you immensely distrust, being vulnerable in the shower, and also someone you recognize that doesn't act like their old self, making you instead question your own self and mind. Needless to say, this has a share of creepy and unsettling moments, rather than going for the throat with its shock value. It's titillating at points but not always forceful like other horror films.

There's a share of stringed instruments that no sane person could listen to and not tense up. "The Broken" seems to be made to play on nerve endings by not letting the viewer relax for long till another pulsating situation arises. It has that down pat though it could have used a few more areas in its story that hint more at what's going on, especially for motivational reasons, otherwise the viewer is left too much in the dark as to what, how and why after the credits roll. It seems to be a film less for the theorists and more for those that appreciate the ride and surface sensations in the moment. I have to admit, for the most part, it did keep me from thinking outside of the box that it presents when I was actually watching it since there was always something either intriguing or rousing going on. This still works with a shred of ambiguity, but the scales are still tipped a little more away from the viewer. It mainly plays on a general sense of paranoia for those that are broadly suspect, as well as has some calculated areas for the logical minded, even if it doesn't go full steam ahead for the skeptic's sake.

Some parts carry a message of sorts, such as securing and appreciating your life as someone or "something" else might take over when you have your guard down. It's more of an undeveloped "what if?" question that will make some people fascinated just because of the idea itself as well as gravitate towards its heavy use of mood while at it. However, with some others I'd imagine it might leave a person more puzzled or frustrated without fully fleshing out a bigger picture from the questions it posed itself. It's not to the point of ambiguity like "Silent Hill" but should be kept in mind before stepping into its alleyway with dark and looming shadows that you might never figure out what's always a step behind or what they're doing there...

Rating: 7/10

Director: Sean Ellis (Cashback)
Stars: Lena Headey, Richard Jenkins, Melvil Poupaud
Link: IMDB

No comments:

Post a Comment