The Brøken

Lena Headey in The Broken
Lena Headey in The Broken

Not to be confused with the 2006 film Broken, directed by Simon Boyes and Adam Mason, The Brøken is a rather more ambitious production directed by Sean Ellis and released in 2008.  With a budget of around £4million, it can count itself as unfortunate not to have been granted a wider release; it played in several festivals around the world and had a limited release in the UK and internationally, but most of its business will inevitably be done on DVD.

The plot is a weird mixture of contemporary Japanese horror movies and Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  Radiologist Gina (Lena Headey) is noticing an increasing amount of cases in which x-rays show people to have all of their organs on the wrong side of their body, an uncommon, if not unknown, phenomena.  At a family dinner, a mirror crashes to the floor and shatters, after which she begins to notice her boyfriend (Melvil Poupard) behaving in a rather peculiar way.  Gradually, she becomes convinced that he’s actually someone else, and things get even worse when she spots someone who looks exactly like her, driving her car and talking on her phone.  Is she going mad?  Or is something more sinister afoot?

It’s good to see a genre effort that has a little more ambition than to simply churn out the usual slasher or backwood massacre clichés, and although it doesn’t quite work – there are a number of glaring plot inconsistencies and the climactic plot twist doesn’t entirely come out of the blue – it’s decently made and very watchable.  Sean Ellis was Oscar nominated for his short film Cashback back in 2004, and he’s obviously a talented filmmaker with a keen visual sense.  In fact, it’s often most effective in its quieter stretches, which act to heighten the creepy atmosphere and sense of impending doom.  It certainly looks as professional and slick as many bigger budgeted productions, and definitely stands alongside the likes of Eden Lake and Frozen at the upper scale of recent UK horror films.

His script maintains interest, and he takes the sensible approach of actually investing his protagonists with a bit more character than usual and having them played by capable, experienced performers.  Lena Headey, who was just about to hit the big time with the starring role in Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles, often pops up slightly leftfield productions (The Cave, Anazapta, Face), and she’s always very effective.  Richard Jenkins (also Oscar nominated, for his performance in The Visitor in 2007), Ulrich Thomsen (Festen) and Poupard give it a bit of international class as well.

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