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Broken

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Posted 7th May 2009 at 11:42 AM by Philleh

The most common term used by fans to describe their feelings towards the majority of independent horror is ďIT HAD POTENTIALĒ. Thatís not exactly a statement that makes you want to run out and rent/buy the product is it? Adam Mason is a man who knows a lot about Ďpotentialí. After making two shockingly substandard horror movies, The 13th Sign and Dust respectively, he was stuck in music video purgatory for his assault on horror fans senses. During this time he clearly learnt a great deal about how to use his cast and crew to optimum effect, making a damn fine video with Welsh noise merchants Hondo Maclean I may add, and set out to make another feature: The Hearteater.

The Hearteater would go through many, many script drafts and revisions between 2004 and 2006. Mason had teamed up with Simon Boyes who would help produce, write and direct this beast. Years of re-shoots, more re-writes and general chaos ensued and it wasnít until late 2006 that they had finally wrapped-up on the film, now named Broken, which is apt a name as any seeing what the subject matter deals with and the ordeal they all went through to get this flick made. So, is this Brit indie horror just another waste of potential? Or will it finally leave horror fans happy?

Broken starts with a frantic montage as a woman wakes up to find her self trapped in a wooden box. Battering her way out she soon finds her way into a butt of a rifle, waking up tied to a tree and propped up on a seesaw like device. Noticing that she has a wound on her stomach, she observes a bloody mess on the floor that contains some intestine and a razor blade. Doing the math she realise why she has been given pliers and starts removing the stitching from her stomach, digging around in her guts until she retrieves the razor blade and promptly starts to cut through the rope thatís wrapped around her neck. Falling to the floor, with her innards spewing all over the place, a man approaches her and asks if sheíll continue. Begging for mercy, he raises the rifle to her head and she pulls the trigger, ending her ordeal.

Itís a brutally fantastic opening that sets the tone for the rest of the movie perfectly and will leave you revolted and totally engaged. It could also be one of the most effective opening sequences of the in recent horror, along with the mighty 28 Weeks Later.

Hope (Nadja Band), is a single mother looking for love. Sheís on a date with a man who has no problem with her having a child and admires her courage in raising her daughter solo. Later that night she returns home to her friend, who has been babysitting her daughter Jennifer, she tucks her child in for the night and then lights out. She wakes up in the wooden box that played such a huge part in the demise of the previous inhabitant at the start of the film. This time however, The Man (Eric Colven) opens the box for her and tells her to run, naturally itís only a matter of time before the butt of his gun finds her head and sheís propped up on a tree, staring face to face with a corpse hanging from the adjacent tree. The Man then hands her a sharpened stick and tells her to cut out the razor blade, she does, begging to see her daughter while trying to keep her intestines from flowing out. Once sheís cut her rope and is lying on the floor he asks if she will continue, she says yes.

The Man takes her back to his rustic shanty cabin in the woods where he cleans and stitches her back up. Once her senses are back she asks where her daughter is, he replies by telling her that she has no family and that he is the only family she has now. From here on out he tries to mould her into his own little housewife and has her wash pans and grow vegetables. A foiled chance of escaping results in hideous consequences, a stomach churning scene, which is brief and all the more powerful for it, he stomps on her leg and damn near breaks it in half! He doesnít attend to the break either and she has to use her cunning, some oregano (genius) and a make shift splint to help reset the break.

The fun doesnít end there folks, The Man has found himself a schoolgirl (Abbey Stirling) and has brought her back to the camp, knowing what fate awaits the traumatised girl, Hope realises itís now or never and that escaping this loony hermit will require the help of the girl. But can she keep her alive long enough to hatch a cunning little scheme? And what has he done with her daughter?

Broken has its flaws, any film that was shot on and off for nearly 2 years is bound to suffer in the continuity department and this is no exception. There is some blatant difference between certain day/night scenes that may bug some, but in all honesty, if youíre watching a zero budget movie you have to come prepared for certain flaws. Luckily, for those with their heads right, this film will have you captivated for 90 minutes and youíll be hard pressed to find something to complain about. The biggest nuisance of the whole film was actually that of the schoolgirl. On her arrival to the camp she literally screams for a whole ****ing day! Hope, The Man and you will all be pissed off with her whining and youíll be begging for her to be silenced!

The climax of this film is as unexpected as it is inspired. Iíll be honest; the flick caught me off guard, not so much due to some cocky little twist, but for the sheer emotion that it packs. Iím not going to spoil it for you, but itís truly the icing on the cake and makes up for the slight lag that the audience will feel towards the third act. Thatís not a criticism per say, as any film with such a basic set-up with limited sets and characters will inevitably have this effect and itís a credit to the filmmakers that they managed to keep the film so engrossing for the majority of the film.

Acting wise, the 2 leads do a fantastic job, granted they arenít Al Pacino and Helen Mirren, with Eric Colven emerging the victor of the battling thespians. His portrayal of a sad, lonely little man is played so well that youíll likely feel as sorry for him as much as youíll hate him. Nadja Band is on fine form also, she has improved on her acting ability since her appearance in Dust tenfold. As noble as the castís efforts are, the stars of the show are the skeleton crew behind the camera.

This film, shot on DV, looks absolutely fantastic (believe me, I was totally surprised by how great this looked, as I HATE DV!), how they achieved the look with one light and a fog machine Iíll never know. Itís a credit to all involved, that they have produced the best looking low budget flick since Shallow Ground Ė and that was shot on film! Director of photography Erik Wilson deserves special mention for this look and itís not hard to see why Alexandre Aja hired him for The Hills Have Eyes remake and Mirrors (remake of the Korean smash-hit Into The Mirror), he really raised the bar in what the money could afford and has given us a beautiful looking DV-horror movie.

For its DVD release Revolver Entertainment has given this low-budget gem a mighty good release. Itís comes with an audio commentary (which isnít included on the list of features on the packaging!) and a brilliant Ďmaking ofÖí documentary called ďI want you to BreakĒ. It covers all the trials and tribulations that the cast and crew went through to achieve their vision and even covers deleted scenes that help explain some of the plot holes (like how the hell did Hope get those Nikeís from?), the two filmmakers are obviously happy with the finished product and so they should be, itís one of the best indie-horror titles to hit the market in some time. We also have a bunch of trailers for further Revolver titles and for the main feature and lastly a music video directed by Adam Mason.

Fans of horror will be very pleased with this release and if any of the brilliant reviews from previews of Mason and Boyes latest fright flick The Devilís Chair are anything to go by, theyíve trumped this movie and have become something of the latest indie heroes, marked as a couple to look out for.

Directed by:
Adam Mason
Simon Boyes

Cast:
Nadja Band
Eric Colven
Abbey Stirling

Recommendations: Saw & Hostel
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