11th Feb2021

‘Breeder’ Blu-ray Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Sara Hjort Ditlevsen, Anders Heinrichsen, Morten Holst, Signe Egholm Olsen, Eeva Putro, Jens Andersen, David Bateson | Written by Sissel Dalsgaard Thomsen | Directed by Jens Dahl

A renowned health supplement company, run by a ruthless businesswoman, is selecting and abducting young women as part of an experiment bio-hacking babies’ DNA to enable her clients to reverse the aging process. When Mia goes to investigate, she finds herself trapped, branded and tortured in a grim underground facility. Familiar faces start to appear, and she realises that she is not alone in this…

Breeder gets off to a very strange start. We’re introduce to Mia as she’s rejected in bed by her husband, later heading out to the horse stable to masturbate whilst sitting on the spikes of a spur! This is definitely a marriage in decline. And it’s no wonder… Mia’s husband is part an parcel to the kidnapping of women, blackmailed by the insane Dr. Ruben – it’s probably enough to turn him off touching any woman, let alone his wife!

Yes, this is mad scientist territory here, with Dr. Ruben seeking that age old elixir of youth at the expense of lives she, undoubtedly, considers beneath her. And elixir that she shares with the rich and powerful, outside of any medical dictate or even societal norms. It’s a sly bit of social commentary: us versus them, rich versus poor. The use of the underclass to further the lives of the rich and powerful. It’s social commentary that, right now, couldn’t be more apt. However theres more here than commentary… there’s horror, real horror.

There’s a real cruel streak to Breeder, embodied in the character of ‘The Dog’, that reminded me very much of Hostel and the “torture porn” cycle of horror that followed that film. Jens Dahl thinks nothing of subjecting the women of his to all sorts of degradation at the hands of Morten Holst’s character – who’s part warden and part torturer-in-chief of the medical facility. Keeping the women in line with beatings, threats of rape, and all manner of painful torture and humiliation. The kind of misogyny I haven’t seen in horror, outside of low-budget underground filmmaking, in some time.

I say that as, whist Breeder is a Norwegian horror that probably won’t get any traction outside of the horror community, it is directed by Jens Dahl – one of Nicolas Winding Refn’s collaborators. Yet whilst Refn is seemingly looking to make his mark on more “high art” cinema, Dahl instead here aims for the opposite end of the spectrum. Which is surprising given how acclaimed Refn’s Pusher (written by Dahl) was – seemingly rocketed Refn into mainstream popularity but , one could say, left Dahl behind. I’m not complaining. It’s been some time since I’ve watched a horror film that has pushed my proverbial buttons as much as Breeder – the violence, gore and overall nasty nature of the film really making for uncomfortable viewing; and it’s not often ANY film makes me uncomfortable these days!

Thankfully the misogyny is offset by the sheer will of the women trapped in Dr. Ruben’s terrifying laboratory-come-torture-den. There’s a superb sense of comeuppance as the women who’ve been subjected to all sorts of horror at the hands of Dr. Ruben and The Dog get their vengeance. A tribalistic “I am woman hear me roar” kind of vengeance – an outpouring of emotional tension bubbling over into violence; yet its a vengeance that also terrifies these women. Not only are they changed by their horrible experience but they’re also, ultimately, changed by their own actions.

SPECIAL BLU-RAY EDITION CONTAINS:

  • Limited Edition O-card Slipcase (First Print Run of 2000 Copies Only)
  • 1080p presentation on Blu-ray
  • DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio
  • Optional English subtitles
  • Interview with director Jens Dahl and screenwriter Sissel Dalsgaard Thomsen
  • PLUS: A Collector s Booklet featuring a new essay by film historian Kat Ellinger

***½  3.5/5

A dark, bleak, uncomfortable horror film, Breeder will be available digitally and on Blu-ray as a part of Eureka’s Montage Pictures range from 15th February 2021.

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