Stars: Morjana Alaoui, Mel Raido, Craig Conway, Patrick Toomey, Stephanie Thomas, Natalie Louise Garcia | Written by Craig Conway, Shaun Robert Smith | Directed by Shaun Robert Smith
Evie (Morjana Alaoui) has started a new life England, to escape her past. She finds herself caring for John (Mel Raido), a former rock star and tetraplegic. When he’s not making her life a complete misery with his insults, he’s still his usual drinking, drug taking partying self. He even gets regular “treatment” from his former nurse – Molly (Stephanie Thomas) from time to time. What is already a complicated situation becomes even worse for Evie when John’s scumbag friend Dougie (Craig Conway), tries to assault her. With all of this going on and all the built up stress, not to mention the lack of support she receives from the agency that hired her, Evie’s past is seemingly coming back to haunt her causing her to have visions and flashbacks. If her situation doesn’t improve soon, she could do something drastic and that would be a shame because John has one of his “Failed Suicide Attempt” parties to host!
Well, what a surprise this film was! Although being something of a hit at 2016′s FrightFest, I had not even heard of this one, let alone knew what it was about. I’m a firm believer of going in to films blind if you can and I’m glad I did here…
To say Broken is a slow-burner is an understatement. Some may find it too slow, but I thought the story progressed brilliantly. Told within the space of a week, it starts out like your typical drama showing the strain that can occur when caring for someone with a disability. There’s a real sense of authenticity here with the situation which is thanks to both Shaun Robert Smith’s and Morjana Alaoui’s direct experience at being a carer. Not only that, but as part of his research for the role of John, Mel Raido spent time working with “The Back-Up Trust” – a charity aimed at helping those suffering from spinal injuries in gaining and maintaining independence.
As horrible as John treats Evie sometimes, you do sympathise with his situation, even if it was brought on by himself. I couldn’t even begin to put myself mentally in the position of carer or patient, but Broken clearly steers away from clichés one would come to expect from films such as this. It was fascinating to see both John’s and Evie’s characters developing, especially the latter. You feel the claustrophobia and tension all the way through to the end. Speaking of which, the ending was fantastic, but I wouldn’t dream of spoiling it for you.
For a film that was shot in essentially one location in 17 days on a budget of around £100,000, Broken is a triumph. Not only that, but this is Shaun Robert Smith’s feature-length debut – a VERY promising career awaits him, I’m sure. From the brilliant sound design, to the claustrophobic sets and cinematography, there’s plenty of uncomfortable and tense moments. We Brits are the masters of gritty dramas and thrillers and although there are some horror elements here and there, Broken fits in perfectly with some of the best in recent years.
Broken is out now on DVD and Digital HD.