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Broken is a grim low-budget horror film in the old-school tradition. I
won't go into details about the story, as most comments already cover
that. What I will say is this: Made for next to nothing, and with a
simple and strong premise, it's an impressive piece of work. Firstly,
it looks great. Atmospheric and intense, the photography suits the
theme of the film. There are some shots near the end that simply look
superb, and they've really captured that moist, raw "waking up in the
woods in the morning"-feeling.
The story is simple and raw. The screenplay is well structured and exploits the premise without ever repeating itself. That's an accomplishment in itself! And it's scary and intense. The gore is well done without being over the top, and the acting is good.
I'm happy to see that people notice low-budget films like this, and give them the attention they deserve. Check it out!
There's not a lot more to add to the already overwhelmingly positive
reviews. First and foremost, this is a low budget, independent film
that actually works to it's advantage. Without constraints of Hollywood
pampering or any of that nonsense, what we get here is a film made by
horror fans, FOR horror fans. These people have a clear understanding
of what people want to see; none of this teen-orientated rubbish, this
is a seriously disturbing and believable film.
With the main character being an ordinary person going through a horrific ordeal in the woods, this really could happen to anyone. From the outset, I felt my stomach churning, and to someone who has seen as many films as I have, this is indeed an achievement. Needless to say, I recommend this film to anyone who can appreciate a good, shocking and unpleasant film.
Keep your eyes on this director.... 5 years from now he will be a much bigger name!
I saw this film at this year's Dead by Dawn festival in Edinburgh.
You know the way you can watch a trailer, get excited by what you've seen and then be ultimately disappointed when you realise that the best bits were in that trailer? Well every so often a film comes along that bucks that trend and you realise what you have already seen was just a taste.
'Broken' is such a film.
The pace from the start is admirable, we know that a mother loves her daughter, so we're spared interminable scenes showing this. The main character is put in her predicament and we know just as much as she does (nothing). We have to found out information as she does. The film descends into mental one-upsmanship as cat and mouse struggle to get the upper hand.
For those weak stomached viewers... beware. This is a film that doesn't shy away from violence and its effects.. or showing them. People will do desperate and uncharacteristic things in the name of survival and when confronted by a cruel enemy, especially when a child is at stake. The escalating violence mirrors this desperation.
Not a film for everyone but an excellent one for those who enjoy quality genre cinema. Which let's face it, is becoming more and more rare.
I just can't agree with the nay sayers on this title. I watch an average of 40 horror films a month so for my taste I can instantly spot something that rises above the crap. True, there are many mysteries and perhaps because of that holes in the movie. The how's and Why's of the situation are never explained but then again a real life victim that is kidnapped,tortured and condition seldom gets a pat answer. The acting is convincing as is the gore and while the story is simple it's never boring.I think some people might have a problem with it's raw non Hollywood feel.SOme may link this to the current trend of "Torture Porn" but this is a far cry from the slick and premeditated madness of Saw or Hostel. THis is actually closer to the seventies horror survival films like Alive,Man In THe WIlderness,I spit on Your Grave and The Town That Dreaded Sundown. With such awful films like the remake of The Invasion Of The Bodysnatchers,The Boogey Man,Hide And Seek and Hostel 2 I am continually perplexed to hear people trash a film like this so indiscriminately. What is your cup of tea,Final Destination 3?
Broken shows us a man who is systematically putting a stream of young
women through graphically horrific trials in isolated woods in order to
test their strength. It seems as if he's searching for a woman strong
enough live at his side as his partner. And it seems he's aware you
need to break someone down before you can rebuild them into something
you desire. Clearly, the qualities 'physically and mentally strong' and
'subservant' are at odds with each other. This is something 'the man'
has taken in to account, figuring ritual abuse, humiliation and
demonstrations that if you try to fight back, you'll pay the price will
be enough to mix this oil and water. He's wrong. But then, just
perhaps, he always had a back up plan anyway... isn't it always best to
change behaviour before it's set in stone?
Grim viewing (possibly difficult if you're not acquainted with fairly extreme horror imagery) and leaves you pondering. This is the best work by a long shot so far to come from the Brand-Mason stable, and perhaps will be the film to 'put them on the map'.
I am gonna skip the synopsis and run to the review itself.
This low budgeted B-Movie is a good surprise. This British independent film has a small cast (3 actors only), very little dialog and set almost entirely in the woods. It hardly sounds like this thing can pull us up for anything good but Simon Boyes and Adam Mason have created a gory, shocking, intelligent and modern thriller.
Broken is somehow paced, I mean, could be a little bit slow for some people out there already hypnotized on clichéd/biased Hollywood horror crap, but let me tell you, this thing will throw suspense and confusion every time you think you know what's going to happen next...
Nadja Brand (Oh! What a gorgeous and sexy woman!), is absolutely fantastic while making her character very realistic and credible.
Eric Colvin is magnificent according to his character on script.
Abbey Stirling is a young actress and did a mediocre job for her first appearance. Who's to blame?
Summing all and concluding, the cinematography makes the film look a lot more expensive for a 9000 Euro cost. The editing is professional, the script good and the directing is quite an accomplishment comparing to other British indie movies of such grandness like Dog Soldiers, Cradle of Fear, Dead Meat and even Boy Eats Girl.
So, we or you will think: If it's so damn good why it's not being distributed in international theaters? Well... because it's too grim and too violent for the regular viewers... but not for me.
I bet on Broken... do you?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Broken is a simple story of a good mother who wakes up in a nightmare.
Trapped with a serial killer, she must take herself to the brink of
pain and strength to survive and discover the fate of her daughter.
What's good about "Broken" is the gore (I've only seen the unrated version), the performances, and the location. The brutal, unflinching gore scenes serve to unnerve the viewer - this ain't no Lifetime movie, and you're instantly on edge and expecting the worst. And the lead characters, Hope and the Man, do a good job of portraying their situations without much dialogue. There's a LOT of screaming and grunting here - I wondered what the neighbors must be thinking. Which leads me to what I found bad about "Broken" - I just never got to know or care about the characters. Is the bad man making some sort of social commentary on the sheltered lives of women? Does he want to create an equal to live out his days in the wilderness with? Does he just think it's a kick to torture women? Who knows? And Hope is pretty thinly drawn, so I'm just not into her journey of being broken or rebuilt or whatever.
Still, the downbeat ending and the fact that it tried to be something more than it was are commendable.
I'd enjoyed Mason's previous efforts, The 13th Sign and Dust, and was
eager to see Broken. I wasn't prepared (in a literal sense) for what I
was about to see. Broken isn't just a step forward for Adam, its a
quantum leap. The only thing I didn't care much for was the music over
the ending credits! Otherwise everything else was a joy and a horror
(in a metaphorical sense) to behold.
First the joy. The film is stunning to watch. Its seems every camera angle has been carefully calculated for maximum impact. The colors are simply gorgeous. You can tell this project is someones baby lavished with love and attention. I know there are several different cuts of Adams previous film Dust in existence, indicating perhaps a change of thought at various stages after shooting was wrapped. With Broken, they seem to have nailed it. Everything is as needs be. We understand very quickly the predicament the characters are in. Everything is finally crafted, building to a climax with a twist at the end... And of course, a superb performance from the female lead Nadja Brand (also in The 13th Sign and Dust) who's work in this film is exemplary, providing us with heart wrenching insights into the human condition.
As for the horror, I think the true underlying horror is the breaking of another person by enslavement, although in this instance, the two, mental and physical cruelty are hand in hand and interwoven throughout the film, right up to the last frame of the film. For a low budget film, the makeup/effects aren't just good, they're fantastic! If this film doesn't establish Adam Mason (and crew), then there's no justice in the world. I'm already looking forward to his next film, The Devil's Chair.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Watch out for the spoilers beneath!
OK, so first part: all comments are true... or at least some. An overview, evaluation, and some additions which I saw nobody mentioning. Does it have scenes that are so graphic you need to be moronicly drunk or firmly dead to be able to support them? Yes. Is it amazing what they did with a budget that was next to peanuts? Yes. Is the acting good? Yes, the two leads carry this one. Even though the directors can shoot a scene, it's the acting that lifts it above the rest from image to image. Do they manage to get the atmosphere across? Yes. In fact, that's all there is, since the actual script couldn't have been beyond 1 A4. Still, I think its brilliant they start off with one of their strongest cards, the razor blade in the belly thing. It's so shocking you, frighted out of your wits, wonder what the directors will be serving you next. In this way, to go along with the 'folding' theory about movies, (originally by tedg on this site, stating that movie quality depends on the degree to which what happens (to the characters) in the movie, story- or emotion-wise, is identical to what you experience as the movie-viewer), you're left in the same position as the women. They don't know what atrocities are planned for them, and we don't know what more we'll be made to watch. But we *know* what is possible. Simple trick, but it is well done and holds the movie together as a whole. On the whole, a pretty impressive feat, by all parties involved.
But, on the other hand, there is stuff that could've been done to make it more realistic, and make it stick more (its realism is the key): (A) I'm not a doctor (well, I am, but not a medical one *grin*), so I wouldn't know, but it seems to me that the razor blade in the belly is utterly impossible, as (a) it would cut the intestines, which would be difficult to mend, (b) cutting the abdominal muscles like that would make it nearly impossible to stand up and it would take a big gap to make the guts spill, (c) the only solution would be to put it under the skin, or at least to have a vertical slit, cutting the softer tissue between the two main abdominal muscles. Call it nitpicking, but centuries after Vesalius, this stuff seriously tests my suspension of disbelief, and makes me flip towards laughter rather than fear. (B) Same goes for the cutting of the tongue, but that's necessary I think (see below). (C) Indeed, the make up of the actresses is pretty ridiculously solid. OK, it's symbolical as she looks better when she's psychologically stronger, but this is not a symbolic film as it goes for realism. So be consistent. (D) Yes, ample opportunities to escape present themselves, but even fear of killing someone doesn't account for their hesitations; especially the tongue-cut girl would *not* have stopped at a couple of blows. (E) Now, slightly problematic for me is the ending, as I think it's probably brilliant but cannot be too sure. Part of the horrifying aspect is the sudden knowledge that the guy has kept the daughter for 40 days, too. But I wondered why, apart from shock, the daughter doesn't call out to mommy. Now there was blood on her face and, since the tongue-cutting suggests the maniac only knows one way to shut somebody up, this suggests that he cut the 6 year old's tongue out (yeah, it takes all kinds). This way, the ultimate cruelty makes sense: she's blind and her daughter is mute, so *never again* will she be able to either hear (daughter can't) or see (mother can't) communication from her daughter. She has her daughter but then again she has not. Problem is I don't know for sure whether the girl's tongue is cut out, which means it's not well-filmed there.
Apart from this, it's not your usual misogynist flic as the pain is real and felt and there's no excuse. You can think what you want about the rather cheap (and dumb) analogy to your typical macho pig keeping his women under his thumb - I think it isn't so much a message, as a vehicle to make it more realistic and the maniac more scary (just a guy who spent too much time over the SAS survival guide). I see it, if anything, as a perverted and reverse take on all those movies showing an hour of domestic bliss before violently ripping it apart in the last 30 minutes.
So, make up your mind. Watching it doesn'st make you a pervert loving to see a woman scream, as this film doesn't revel in that. It does make you a sicko wanting to see people getting viciously maimed and hurt until they're really - broken. Come to think of it, it's actually reality TV! Anyway; very well done but some obvious things would need to be better to get this from an 8 to a 9. A 10 is too far away as much more could've been done with a more in-depth script trying to avoid the usual victim-maniac psychology pitfalls.
An abysmally poor entry into the 'torture porn' genre, a British movie
shot out in the Cambridgeshire woods somewhere with the
writer/director's own wife playing a central role. I have two questions
after watching this: who told the writing/directing team they could
direct, and who told the main actress she could act?
BROKEN is the worst kind of horror film, a repulsive exercise in sadism designed to cash in on the popularity of the SAW franchise, which it rips off throughout (and most notably at the beginning). The opening credits play out over a montage of a young woman trying to retrieve a razorblade sewn inside her stomach, and if that sounds like your idea of entertainment then you're welcome to it. The repetitive self-mutilation continues for another twenty minutes or so before the film settles down into a plot less affair which tries to depict a supposedly tense relationship between hostage and captor.
The truth is that BROKEN is entirely void of original idea and intent, so instead it ups the ante in terms of on-screen gore and general nastiness. Not that the special effects are good, because they aren't, but there's a general undercurrent of depravity and sadism which makes it an alternatively gruelling and boring watch. Despite the unpleasantness, there's never any suspense or tension in any of the hackneyed scenes, and the intensely irritating Nadja Brand fails to elicit one iota of sympathy for her character's plight. The villain is a nobody, there's no motivation or backstory for any of the characters, no attempts at characterisation or realism. Just endless repetition and padding until the final, merciful moments.
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