Directed by Jens Dahl.
Starring Sara Hjort Ditlevsen, Anders Heinrichsen, Morten Holst, Jens Andersen, Signe Egholm Olsen, and Eeva Putro.
A ruthless businesswoman kidnaps women and performs experiments on them in order to make paying male customers younger.
Danish movie Breeder is a love story where Mia (Sara Hjort Ditlevsen) and her husband Thomas (Anders Heinrichsen) are struggling to come to terms with not having child. Mia is desperate for a baby, Thomas is cold and distant, seemingly unwilling to commit to raising a new life in his comfortable surroundings where the little blighter would want for nothing. Ah, what are the happy young couple to do?
Alright, that isn’t a strictly accurate description of what Breeder is about so don’t go expecting a rom-com. Mia and Thomas are a married couple with some underlying communication problems when it comes to dealing with what each other wants out of the relationship but that is not the focus here. The focus is on Mia when she goes to find out why Thomas hasn’t taken their neighbour Nika (Eeva Putro ) to the hospital after she was attacked, kidnapped and escaped. The reason why is because Thomas has taken said neighbour to see Ruben (Signe Egholm Olsen), his business partner and not a very nice lady as she has come up with a way to stop middle-aged men from ageing and even making them look younger by harvesting human eggs and other undefined stuff that doesn’t really matter. Anyway, the upshot is that women get made pregnant by artificial insemination and then tortured if they upset The Dog (Morten Holst), one of Ruben’s sadistic enforcers, and you’ll never guess where Mia ends up…
Yes, Breeder is a throwback to the torture porn movies of the 2000s where people – usually women – get kidnapped and held prisoner in a rundown warehouse where nobody except snooping wives go, get beaten within an inch of their life, eventually break free and run away from before being caught, dragged back and beaten some more. The thing with Breeder is that it was written by a woman, which adds further dimensions to what is depicted here but what Breeder doesn’t quite do is give us characters with any depth and so the messages that the filmmakers want to get across seem a little vague.
Now, torture porn movies with plots and characters weren’t exactly high in number 15-odd years ago but there were a few; Saw started out that way before meandering off a bit, Hostel: II had more going on than the first movie’s central bromance would have you believe whilst the likes of Frontier(s) balanced a socio-political commentary with extreme gore and violence pretty much to perfection but it was 2007s Martyrs that was the genre’s crowning glory, forcing the viewer to become complicit in its more horrific aspects. One of the biggest complaints/draws (depending on how you view the movie) of Martyrs was that the gore came second to the brutality that the main character went through, resulting in harrowing extended scenes of a woman being repeatedly punched by a huge brute of a man. Of course, there are plot reasons for it and if you haven’t seen it then do yourself a favour and watch it but Breeder seems to take that idea of brutality over bloodshed and runs with it, making for some uncomfortable viewing as The Dog and his sidekick The Swine (Jens Andersen) get their pleasure from whipping, beating and urinating over their captives. Oh yes, this movie has plenty of bodily fluids leaking everywhere and not all of it is blood; there is even a sample pot of semen in one shot, and that comes after a scene of a woman vomiting so it is advisable not to put this movie on if you are sitting down in front of the television with food.
As previously stated the characters are pretty thinly written – Thomas is shifty from the start and clearly up to something, Ruben is stern-faced and has weird angular eyebrows so she is clearly a wrong ‘un, The Dog is dirty and speaks quietly until somebody breaks his rules (although Morten Holst is clearly adept at playing a scumbag as he is very good with what he has to do), and so on – but Sara Hjort Ditlevsen is a very strong lead as Mia, despite a clumsy attempt by the writers to show us that she can take pain with pleasure by way of an odd masturbation scene that doesn’t really serve any purpose, especially as she clearly doesn’t get any gratification from being beaten later on in the film.
Had this been released in 2006 it would have probably been swept up amongst the myriad of Hostel knock-offs but watching it now Breeder does stick out amongst the current wave of dreary and mediocre psychological horrors that have taken over the mainstream by daring to be more violent, more graphic and offering up something for those that like their horror to be a bit more action-packed and exciting. Yes, the intent behind it is a bit messagey but the indistinct nature of the writing actually helps it become a more entertaining movie by pushing that side of things away from the forefront. It won’t be for everyone but Breeder is well shot, contains a few strong performances, displays some gloriously nasty torture that will be very uncomfortable viewing for some (but that is horror, folks) and there is a positive message to come out of it at the end, just not a clearly defined one. Nevertheless, as far as being a horror movie designed to shock goes, Breeder succeeds.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★