Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Now, given that great horror movie moment in Cashback (review in Archive), I was stoked to hear that Sean Ellis was taking on some weird sh!t in his follow-up, The Brøken.
Ask yourself this: what if, one day, you were to see yourself drive past you in your own car? What would you do?
It’s a situation radiologist Gina McVey (Lena Headey) finds herself faced with in The Brøken, and her response to this phenomenon is the lynchpin which drives this excellent and chilling sophomore feature from Ellis.

The questions are obvious: is this actually happening in objective reality, and if so, what is its nature? Or is Gina just plain nutters?
Since The Brøken is the sort of film best seen knowing as little as possible about it beforehand, I won’t go any further beyond saying that though we do see the nature of the bizarre goings-on as the film unspools, there are no real verbal expository bits, which we usually see in Hollywood horror; note how The Ring works out how to properly explain what we’re seeing on the screen, while Ringu pretty much just goes for the atmosphere and the scares, without really belabouring the whys and wherefores.
So, while we do get a sense of the nature and mechanics of the horror here, there is no grand underscoring, which, in this case, makes the end result—as with Ringu—that much more effective.

Ellis reunites with some significant Cashback personnel like Angus Hudson (cinematographer), Scott Thomas* (editor), and Guy Farley (composer), to brilliant effect, presenting us with a tight, elegantly constructed chiller.
Aside from being a great piece of horror cinema, The Brøken also plays—curiously enough—like an indictment of two recent films, both remakes, both reviewed here at the Iguana.
I won’t mention which films those are, of course, so as to keep The Brøken’s central premise a mystery—you’ll know them anyway once you’ve seen what Ellis has achieved here.
Ellis succeeds in doing, with a tremendous and confident flourish, what those films so clearly failed to do: present us with an involving, creepy, and ultimately disconcerting narrative that plays on certain common fears.
Check out The Brøken, and witness the continued growth of writer/director Sean Ellis, a bright new star in the British cinematic firmament.

* It should be noted that Thomas was also the editor on Philip Ridley’s excellent The Reflecting Skin.

Parting shot: Though nominated at Sitges 2008 for Best Film, The Brøken ultimately lost to Jennifer Lynch’s Surveillance. (Hudson, however, did win for Best Cinematography.)

Parting shot 2: It’s interesting to note that Rick Astley (and I’m assuming this is the Rick Astley) is sent off “A Special Thank You” in the end credits.

(The Brøken OS and images courtesy of beyondhollywood.com.)

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