The Broken - - 8 Films to Die For DVD Review

The Broken - - 8 Films to Die For DVD Review
Can't fix it
Updated: 03-23-2009

What's better than Lena Headey? Two Lena Headeys (or three, if you count the fact she's in another direct-to-disk horror release now, Robert Hall's Laid To Rest). In The Broken, she becomes a ghost of herself, both literally and figuratively, after a mirror breaks and unleashes an unexplained curse on she and her family.

Seemingly based loosely on Edgar Allen Poe's short story William Wilson (a tale already told most excellently in 1968 by filmmaker Louis Malle in the Poe anthology film Spirits of the Dead), The Broken begins with this quote: "You have conquered, and I yield. Yet, henceforward art thou also dead — dead to the World, to Heaven and to Hope! In me didst thou exist — and, in my death, see by this image, which is thine own, how utterly thou hast murdered thyself." If that sounds intense, flowery and overwrought, be warned: The movie is anything but. It's cold, calculating, subdued, simple and repetitive.
The tense psychological drama (to call it a "thriller" would be an undeserved compliment), written and directed by Brit Sean Ellis, attracted a top international cast boasting the likes of Headey, Melvil Poupaud, and recent Academy Award nominee, Richard Jenkins. I can certainly see why the actors would be attracted, as they each have dialogue-driven roles worthy of a spotlight onstage. These are good characters, and the thesps are all more than up to the task of portraying them with admirable depth. It's a well-shot, arty movie that's a pleasure to watch. The music is eerie and taut. If only the 88 minute movie had a sustainable running time, or if all the atmosphere panned out to something substantial in the end… But unfortunately, The Broken is a mystery without a clue.
Which is not to say I didn't like the movie. I was on board with The Broken through the first three quarters, but the sucker punch of nothingness at the end soured me on the whole thing. Heavily reminiscent of dread-filled horror movies like Mirrors, Invasion, The Astronaut's Wife, and even its fellow 2009 Eight Films to Die For teammate From Within, The Broken just never comes together on its own terms.
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Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson

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