The Broken (2008)
The Broken is more idea than substance, more quiet contemplation than excitement, more a concept than a decent horror film. It is a bold effort but lacks any real punch and will leave many cold and wanting.
Gina McVey (Lena Hedley) is having a retirement dinner for her father when a mirror over the mantelpiece suddenly explodes. Although this is laughed off by everyone present, this shattering of luck symbolizes the start of something incredibly dangerous and bizarre in the McVey family. When Gina heads off to work the next morning, unbeknownst to her the bathroom mirror explodes outwards and a woman clambers from the wall behind. What follows is a doppelganger horror story where a chance encounter with her other self leads to a head-on collision with a taxi, leaving our protagonist disorientated and with partial amnesia. When her boyfriend begins acting strangely and her father’s work mirror is found smashed, Gina realizes something horrific is happening to the people around her.
Director / writer Sean Ellis does portray a grim London perfectly with dank blues and endless rain, a sprawling unfriendly metropolis, but it is not just the cinematography that leaves us cold. Ellis methodically tells a story that sadly eliminates intelligent presumption and replaces it with a lot of unnecessary scenes that are superfluous and drag. The tumultuous score, although well made, begins to grate as every seemingly normal scene is given a tense rising crescendo where the climax of which reaches nothing. It serves to unnerve at first, but gradually becomes annoying, much like the repeated slow-mo of Gina’s car crash that, despite being beautifully shot, quickly turns irritating.
There are also some laugh-out-loud ridiculous moments in The Broken, especially the scene where Gina drops a photograph on the tube rail track and tries to grab it before a train runs her over. Pointless, hilariously dumb and utterly flawed. At one point you’re just angrily screaming “Call the police! Call the police! Call the police!” at the screen through enraged incredulity at how totally stupid the characters in The Broken are.
As an actress Lena Hedley is cold and difficult to empathize with – her smile never really touches her eyes – and as our troubled protagonist it is hard to love her with this absence of humour and warmth. This is especially noticeable when surrounded by electric supporting characters such as Richard Jenkins and Asier Newman, Gina’s father and brother, who you really genuinely care for and like.
The Broken is an interesting and potentially brilliant idea, but it is played out so slowly and methodically that all scares or horrors are replaced with a shrug-worthy mild interest. The Broken is conceptually much better than its final execution, which sadly will drop this film and its idea into bitter obscurity.