Reel Advice from the Video Store Guy

The Broken | Slaughter

By Steve Anderson
June 1st, 2009

The BrokenThe Broken
**
DVD
Directed by Sean Ellis
Written by Sean Ellis
Starring Lena Headey, Ulrich Thomsen, Melvil Poupard, Michelle Duncan
Produced by Lene Bausager
R
93 mins
2009

Welcome to the second installment of the After Dark Horrorfest: Eight Films to Die For 3 series, and today we're going to be tackling The Broken. If you've read these before, you may already know that I like to try and arrange them according to how I think they'll do from worst to best in order, after the first year's disastrous mistake of handling my favorite first. Today we're tackling The Broken--how will it fare? Let's find out.

When a successful radiologist notices her double driving around the streets of London, said radiologist is a little surprised. When she follows her double around, back to where her double lives, she discovers the start of a mystery that may well end up killing her. Now, with no one to trust, and a whole world seemingly out of whack, can she discover the truth?

I have to admit right off that The Broken does a surprisingly good job of building dread. There are a lot of suspenseful moments in this, and it's frankly a downright shame that so few of them ever pay off. The whole concept of "the man (or woman, depending) in the mirror" is a spectacularly freaky--they took a run at this idea back in Mirrors, but The Broken is actually a much more cerebral and urbane version. Where Mirrors depended on jaw-pulling and throat-slitting, The Broken depends on mirror versions of people--personalities and all--in our world. How odd, how vaguely horrifying, when a person that looks just like us but thinks completely differently, is running loose in our world, our face on their bodies, our reputations in their hands.

The down side to The Broken, of course, is that they're not exactly sure just where they're going with all this. Why, exactly, do the mirror people want out? Do they prefer our world? Is their world an abyssal black hell from which everyone wants to leave? Or are they just ooo spooky evil and just want us all dead? I don't know what the deal is, exactly, but the whole thing makes precious little sense.

They had a good idea, they just didn't explain it very well, and that's the ultimate tragedy of The Broken--it could've really been something, but because they didn't add on a whole lot of exposition, most of the point is lost.

The ending does manage to do a good job of summing up the narrative as it was, but again, I was left with a whole lot more questions than answers.

The special features include a slew of trailers at the beginning and some Miss Horrorfest webisodes.

All in all, this is definitely not the Horrorfest's finest hour--pretty far from it, in fact. It's not necessarily a bad movie, it's just a very incomplete movie. Frankly, if this one's the dog of the bunch I'm in for a FANTASTIC Horrorfest.

 
SlaughterSlaughter

I was willing to give Slaughter some credit--it's the third of eight in the series of the After Dark Horrorfest review cycle, which means I'm looking for it to be about middle of the road in terms of quality. Would it live up to my expectations?

I admit to some concerns about this one, mostly because of what's stamped on the front cover: based on true events. When I read that little slogan, I immediately launch into a Spock-esque eyebrow arch of skepticism and concern. While some movies based on true events, like The Strangers, are extra freaky for their possible realism, other movies use it like antifreeze in wine--a way to give grape juice a little "extra kick". The downside there, of course, is that it's likely to leave you blind. And while no movie (and I've seen some truly lousy ones in my time) is ever sufficiently bad to strike its viewers blind, it's entirely possible that the movie just sucks and it's trying desperately to cover its tracks with an attempt at scaring you by forcing you to wonder, could this happen to me? Sadly, it's not nearly as good as the first couple of titles, but actually, it's not really that bad.

In Slaughter, a young woman named Faith is on the run from her abusive boyfriend, hopping from safe house to safe house to elude her pursuer, when she comes across Lola, a farm girl with a taste for the wild life. After a chance meeting, Lola offers Faith a place to stay in exchange for cheap rent and some help with farm chores. Faith, glad for the chance to stay somewhere none of her friends has even heard of, and thus could never reveal to her ex, jumps at the offer, and soon the two are roommates and close friends. But as things go along, we rapidly find that all isn't well with Lola...and it just might mean Faith's death.

I'm already skeptical about the whole "based on a true story" bushwah, mostly because after watching the movie I can't figure out who exactly would be LEFT to tell it. Not to spoiler or anything but there will be a LOT of deaths.

Slaughter isn't really a bad movie--the last twenty minutes or so are easily packed with enough twists for three movies--but it's not really a good movie either, because it takes so long to GET to that really sweet part without a whole lot going on. If the first hour had been like the last twenty minutes then I would not stop raving about this movie. Seriously, you couldn't get me to shut up about it. But if the worst I can say about it is that it takes its sweet time getting to a really bang-up conclusion, well hey...worse things have been said.

I know--I've said most of them!

The ending is easily the best part of the whole thing, packing in all sorts of twists until a strange and utterly unforeseeable conclusion. It's actually really interesting.

The special features include audio and display options, a making of featurette, deleted scenes, Miss Horrorfest webisodes and both English and Spanish subtitles.

Is Slaughter the dog of After Dark Horrorfest 3? For now, it's definitely a leading candidate. But if this IS the dog then we have plenty to look forward to, as this dog wasn't all that bad to begin with. If you haven't seen any Horrorfest episodes yet, I suggest starting here, as it'll likely only get better.

Want to receive an expanded version of Reel Advice as an E-Newsletter?? Email to thevideostoreguy@columnist.com with "The Advisor" in the subject line.  Steve Andersen, much to his own chagrin, is a five-plus year veteran of the direct to video market. He has spent an alarming amount of time in video stores and seeks to provide the public with advance information on all the video releases that they may never have heard of...whether they want to hear of them or not. Steve appears in one way or another weekly, biweekly, or monthly on such fine entertainment-related ezines as Film Threat, Dream Forge, Reel Horror, Acid Logic, Chaotic Culture Magazine, Malicious Bitch webzine, and many others. Readers, agents, or editors can email Steve at thevideostoreguy@columnist.com




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