Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Broken (Ellis, 2008)

I just finished a very interesting and engrossing thriller/fantasy/horror film called The Broken. It's too bad my turn isn't going to be for awhile again yet (assuming we'll even keep watching movies together since the project already seems to be fizzling), because I might choose this for us all to watch. It's risky, because it's an indie film, and film clubbers tend to be a lot harder on indie films unless they're by established directors. but I think this one really holds together well. It's directed by Sean Ellis, who also did Cashback (the short film on which the feature was built was nominated for an Oscar). I think Ben saw that one or the other, but I'm not sure.

The Broken is about doppelgangers from a mirror dimension who are (presumably) trying to take over the lives of their counterparts in this one. The film centers on one social group, a father and his two children and their significant others, with most of the story focusing on the daughter, Gina. However, there are also several scenes that suggest what's happening with the core social group might be happening on a grander scale.

I don't want to say too much about it, because I really hope at least one other person will watch it (Ben, you're the most likely candidate--Brandon might also like it, though there are only a couple really gory scenes) so I can get another perspective. I can't really say the film has a twist ending, because you get a sense early on about what the narrative hook is. What's brilliant is the Hitchcockian way that Ellis sets up the hook, so that your suspicions are not really confirmed until the end. I'll say only that it's a classic switch in perspective. And, if you're like me, you'll want to go back and watch the key scenes again to figure out exactly what happened. I watched it twice, I was so intrigued (having the week off from work helps)--not just to figure some things out, but to see if the internal logic was consistent. And, remarkably, despite the standard horror "jump" techniques--the dissonant crescendoing soundtrack, sudden changes from quiet to loud noises, a murder in the shower a la Psycho--The Broken doesn't sacrifice its story for these things. The few scenes that seems to contain inconsistencies are fairly easy to explain and the few dangling threads left over don't matter too much. In addition, to make things more fun, Ellis has a character introduce the Capgras delusion theory as a possible explanation for events, in which a person believes a significant other to have been replaced by an imposter.

One thing I love the most about this film is Ellis doesn't explain why events are happening as they are. Are these doppelgangers tired of the dark realm in which they exist and desire the brighter world of their original counterparts? Are the doppelgangers actually darker parts of the characters themselves? There's a lot left to the imagination, and yet the audience is left with some clarity about what is happening, if not any reason why. I personally have taken to the more literal interpretation of the story, but it's because I'm a sucker for tales of other dimensions (hence my patience with Ink--heh heh--though in terms of succeeding in its efforts, The Broken does a much more effective job, while still captivating my imagination). Despite its stance as a standard (but better-than-average) horror film, The Broken still effectively leaves room for the exploration of more abstract and complex themes.

Friday, March 2, 2012

It's All About the Whiskey

I was discussing Lonely Are the Brave with Adrienne on the ride over to Brandon's show, and I realized my disgust at the ending had to do almost exclusively with the horse dying. I reimagined the ending with the horse running away unharmed and all of a sudden I didn't care as much anymore about Kirk biting it. I mean, he took chances living the way he did. Living and dying by the sword and all that. But the horse was innocent.

Ben, this is what I was referring to when *I* referred to myself as watching it too literally in the title of my first response. I let my emotion for a fictional animal completely obfuscate any deeper meaning the film may have held.

I wrote that initial post immediately after watching the film, so it was primarily a visceral reaction. A few days later, calmer now, I can see it all a little more clearly. I still think it would have been a perfectly good movie had he been allowed to ride into the sunset, however. Or escaped via the back of a semi, like I originally hoped. That would have been clever.