‘The Broken’ – A Competent Supernatural Thriller Undermined By Familiar Influences
In the moody 2008 supernatural thriller ‘The Broken’, a talented radiologist’s sanity unravels after she glimpses her exact duplicate and becomes convinced loved ones are being replaced by sinister duplicates. While competently made, director Sean Ellis’ film borrows heavily from genre touchstones like ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’, failing to establish its own unique identity.
After surviving a car accident she can’t recall, Gina McVey notices subtle changes in those closest to her – emotional distance, altered behavior, a strange look in their eyes. Her doppelgänger sighting convinces her something inhuman has infiltrated her world, wearing loved ones’ faces but lacking their essences. But is it reality or Capgras delusion?
As Gina, Lena Headey compellingly anchors the psychological tension, conveying escalating paranoia through frantic eyes and clenched body language. When the truth about the doubles emerges, the story flips expectations with shocking reveals until culminating in surreal tragedy.
Yet while Ellis demonstrates storytelling skill, his inability to transcend the influences hinders the film. Body horror and wary distrust of loved ones echo Invasion of the Body Snatchers, while the mirror doppelgänger idea recalls Dark Water. The components exceed the sum.
The Broken borrows quite a bit from Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It also relies quite a bit on the plot of the Korean horror film Into the Mirror (remade as Mirrors in the United States). Usually I would be shouting “RIP-OFF” at discovering this. However I don’t feel that ripping someone else’s work off was what director/writer Sean Ellis intended to do. I believe he set out to make a good horror film that would keep the audience guessing right up to the very end and I believe that he succeeds for the most part.
Lena Headey is very good as Gina Mcvey. She brings a calm to the character that I don’t think any other actress could have done except maybe for Nicole Kidman or Kate Winslet. Richard Jenkins as John McVey, Gina’s father, is also quite good and reminds us why he received an Oscar nomination. The rest of the cast is a credible one and there really are no weak performances.
For fans of moody supernatural thrillers, ‘The Broken’ delivers competently on tension and mystery. But familiar themes prevent it from forging its own identity. Unable to escape its influences, it remains merely a well-executed pastiche. The Broken is a good film. It is just not a great film. It borrows from other films a bit much and that hurts its’ credibility. Sean Ellis clearly shows talent as director. I for one would like to see something entirely original from him. I don’t think I will be waiting very long.