Directed by Shaun Robert Smith.
Starring Morjana Alaoui, Mel Raido, and Craig Conway.
Evie, full-time live-in carer to crippled rock star Jonathan, finds the darkness of her past returning to haunt her as the pressures of her new job begin to take control…
Following several short films and a career as a make-up artist, Shaun Robert Smith ventures into debut feature territory with Broken, produced by supporting star Craig Conway, and which has been dubbed by some–including Alan Jones at FrightFest – as comparable to pictures such as Taxi Driver or Repulsion. Errr… hang on, were we watching the same film? Because I don’t remember either of those classic horror pictures by acclaimed directors boring me half to death. Broken takes a premise which should have been a white knuckle, thumbscrew tight psychological ride into the dark depths of a woman’s psyche and instead delivers a bland, plodding tread into the lives of some desperately unlikeable characters, without even the dank, filthy fun of the exploitation it wants to explore.
The premise is simple: immigrant Evie (Morjana Alaoui) is attempting to kickstart a new life in the U.K. by acting as a live in carer for Jonathan (Mel Raido), a former rock star crippled in a (self-inflicted) accident, who now spends his days wallowing in filth, sex parties & self-pity while being given drugs by Conway’s old pal Dougie. Sounds charming doesn’t it? Now frankly this kind of depressing set up would be worth the time did Smith’s film do one of two things – either revel in the filth, make it fun and even perhaps a dash eccentric or OTT, or otherwise be truly nightmarish, scary and tense. His film does neither.
It simply takes over ninety minutes (which feel like three hours) to go almost nowhere. Alaoui doesn’t get the material to truly allow her tortured carer to be explored in the manner she deserves, given her horrendous backstory, while Raido is just so relentlessly a prick to everyone you simply count the minutes until someone does him in. Everyone swears a lot, Jonathan shits his pants a few times, Conway acts a bit rapey and eventually the ‘pressure’ gets too much. Or so Smith would want us to believe. Truth is, despite some level of grim, claustrophobic atmosphere he brings to his direction, you’ll be so bored by last orders you just won’t give a toss who ends up ‘broken’, and how.
What’s a shame is that Broken probably has a decent psychological thriller up its sleeve but it just doesn’t have the script or style to pull it off. Shaun Robert Smith does create a grim level of staging which he can build on as a horror director but the story and writing here lacks both incident and tension, unable to tighten the screws of creeping, nasty exploitation horror in the way it wants to.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★