Thursday, July 9, 2009

Horror Movie Review: Broken


Starring: Nadja Brand, Eric Colvin, and Abbey Stirling

Written by: Simon Boyes and Adam Mason

Directed by:Simon Boyes and Adam Mason

Production Company: Brand Mason

Release Date: April 33, 2006 at the Dead by Dawn Horror Film Festival

Awards: Best Make-Up Jury Prize at the 2006 Austin Fantastic Fest

Torture Horror has become a hot genre in the horror film industry since Saw came out and then was followed by such popular films as Saw and Saw. But torture has been used in horror films for a very long time included in such classics as The Black Cat starring Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, although the original script had more than they understandably allowed in 1934. Today's torture horror is dependent upon torture and gore being the main focus of the horror. Someone's going to be tied down or chained up for a significant portion of the film. Wolf Creek is an excellent example of torture horror while the more lauded Hostel fails to captivate.

But then comes along Broken. Hope gets home after a good first date, relieves the babysitter, checks in on daughter Jennifer, and then goes to sleep. The next days she awakens inside a wooden box nailed shut. Eventually she is released and allowed to run through the woods for a bit before she's knocked unconscious. When she next comes to, she's tied by the neck to a tree and tottering on some rocks. A mysterious man tells her she can save herself if she's strong enough. Staring at the strangled, dangling corpse opposite her and feeling the new stitches on her belly, she realizes she literally has the means to save her life inside of her.

After saving herself, the man takes her, cares for her, and when she come to again she's chained to a tree. The man's been looking for a woman strong enough to serve him in the woods, and Hope is that woman. She becomes his slave cleaning his dishes, caring for the garden, and forgetting her daughter. "Forget your past. It's over," he tells her early on when she's begging to be told about her daughter. As she learns how to cope under this crazed man's thumb, the Man brings in another woman Holly, who doesn't handle the extreme situation as well.

Will Holly and Hope escape? What happened to Hope's daughter Jennifer? Only time will tell.

One of the strengths of this film is that it shifts tone so that it is not an hour and a half of torture. The first third of the movie is the hard torture part with the second third showing Hope scornfully accepting that the Man is in control and she just has to survive. Hope learns strength and even gets away with challenging the Man without physical retribution from him as he grows to respect her willingness to stand up to him, and the final third reignites Hope's desire to escape with the new girl's desire to escape. The torture and gore never completely leave, but tone down after the first act, so if that's the kind of thing you don't enjoy, well, there's not as much as Hostel.

Broken is a compelling story of strength in the face of isolation. It can be frustrating in seeing Hope have a chance to escape but not following through, but then having never been faced with the need to kill someone myself, I can't guarantee it's as easy as it seems sitting comfortably on my couch with a beer in hand.

Related Videos

13th Sign

Nadja Brand, who played Hope, and Eric Colvin, who played the Man, also starred in 13th Sign. A young woman must confront the ancient evil that drove her father to commit an unthinkable act in this horror tale. On her eighth birthday, Lany's father killed 15 people and then committed suicide. Still haunted by the memories, Lany returns home to destroy the demons that took her father. But time is running out as the evil force grows increasingly powerful, and Lany must take on the entire village to save her soul.

The Devil's Chair

Simon Boyes, Co-Writer and Co-Director of Broken, also wrote The Devil's Chair. Nick West brings the easy and filthy Sammy to the abandoned Blackwater Asylum for using acid and having sex. They find a weird chair and Nick proposes kinky sex to Sammy; however the device traps and kills Sammy. Nick is arrested and considered insane, being sentenced to the Hildon Mental Institute in spite of claiming that supernatural forces killed Sammy. Four years later, the honorable Cambridge professor Dr. Willard proposes Nick's psychiatric Dr. Clairebourne to release him under his custody for an experimental treatment, exposing the truth to Nick bringing him back to the crime scene. Dr. Clairebourne opposes, explaining that Nick still has severe delusions, but in the end she accepts, with Dr. Willard assuming full responsibility for Nick. Dr. Willard, his assistant Melissa and the students Rachel Fowles and Brett Wilson head with Nick to the Blackwater Asylum finding the dreadful truth about the devil's chair.

See Horror Movie Night Orgy's review of The Devil's Chair here.

Blood River

Co-Writer and Co-Director Adam Mason also directed and Co-wrote Blood River, seen in 2009 at Atlanta Film and Video Festival and the Dead by Dawn Horror Film Festival. A psychological thriller following a successful young married couple on their way to visit family. After a blowout on a desolate stretch of highway in Nevada, they head to the next town only to discover it long abandoned. Here they meet a mysterious stranger who seems to know decidedly more than he is sharing. In aiding their survival, he gradually undermines some of their most comfortable assumptions, playing wife off against husband. As they struggle to co-operate with this plain-speaking itinerant without compromising their own trusted partnership, his behaviour becomes more bizarre and accusatory. Surface reality starts to fragment, dark secrets threaten to emerge, and their secure lives start to unravel...


Saw is another torture horror film about someone being abducted. Would you die to live? That's what two men, Adam (Leigh Whannell) and Gordon (Cary Elwes), have to ask themselves when they're paired up in a deadly situation. Abducted by a serial killer, they're both holed up in a prison constructed with such ingenuity that they may not be able to escape before their captor decides it's time to dismantle their bodies in his signature way. Attempting to break free may kill them too, but staying definitely will.


Hostel is another torture horror about abducted people. Seeking out the quintessential college experience by backpacking through Europe, two American students (Jay Hernandez and Derek Richardson) befriend an eccentric Icelander (Eythor Gudjonsson) and head to a hostel that's said to be brimming with women. But once they arrive, their desires are quelled by the discovery of unimaginable horrors.

Wolf Creek

Another torture horror about abduction. Stranded backpackers in remote Australia fall prey to a murderous bushman who offers to fix their car, then takes them captive.

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