Escaping a dark past, Evie (Morjana Alaoui) takes a job as a live-in carer for an ex-rockstar and tetraplegic, Jon (Mel Raido – Legend, 2015). Having suffered weeks of verbal and mental abuse from her intolerant patient, Evie’s frustrations begin to trigger traumatic memories which push her to the limit.

Opening to the cries of John as he calls for Evie to change him, Broken wastes no time in establishing its premise. Based very loosely on some real life experiences of the film’s director and past carer, Shaun Robert Smith, Evie works as a primary carer for John who refuses to adjust following a drug-fuelled accident. During a visit from a support officer, Evie pleads to be moved to another patient explaining that John’s abusive behaviour, life of drinking, drugs and visits from prostitutes is not something she feels comfortable with. However, when “just a few days” turns in to a few too many, Evie feels her sanity slipping away.

Set primarily within a small and dimly lit house, Smith does well to use spacial editing to create a claustrophobic environment which mirrors both Evie and John’s mental state. As the narrative develops, the house appears darker and more confined as is to create a sense of the walls closing in. Evie’s own private space is not a home (filled only with the basics and very few personal items) and is invaded constantly – especially with John’s voice coming through the tannoy system. However, despite Evie’s turmoil, Broken does take the time to recognise that John too is trapped within his own body and unable to defeat his demons. This narrative tool is not only used to play upon Evie’s mind further, but allows a natural depth to both of their character developments in a compelling way.

Though there are some scenes which fall under horror conventions, Broken is ultimately a psychological thriller. With consistent topics of suicide and depression, the film shines a harsh light on the lurid and often unseen side of care work. Whilst a common concern is that of a vulnerable loved one being abused at the hands of a stranger from whom we are so quick to blame, instead Smith asks about the duty of care and support to the workers themselves. Whilst we must suspend our disbelief a little and this is an over-dramatised version of events, the deeper rooted meaning at its heart is just as relevant. When do the lines of a carer’s job description become blurred? Can someone care too much? In Evie’s case – her fear for John’s health and quality of life consume her whilst John’s friend and enabler, Dougie (producer and writer, Craig Conway) presents an entirely new danger all together.

With a limited budget and setting, Broken relies heavily on the success of its cast. Despite a few cliche lines of dialogue, both Raido and Alaoui offer believable and powerful performances within this immersive drama. Though their relationship is ultimately rocky and toxic, the pair have a  brief moment of clarity before it is stolen away by Dougie’s influence. Conway also adds to the success of the film as an utterly complex yet memorable character. Whilst Dougie is very much an antagonist, he too has made sacrifices as a result of John’s accident but presents some truly intense and uncomfortable scenes with Evie. Indeed, both the lead and supporting roles of this bleak drama are truly broken.

With an engaging cast and well-written narrative, Broken offers a unique yet beautifully bleak drama with a guns blazing conclusion. Though not entirely without its faults, Broken is a unique and engaging film.

Horror Channel Frightfest review: Broken
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About The Author

Sophie Elizabeth

Sophie is a film blogger from South London with a degree in Film Theory and Major Production. Sophie currently works in digital marketing but in her spare time you'll find her writing reviews or at the cinema. Sophie loves all things Star Wars and Hollywood but having specialized in the Horror genre, monsters are her first love. She'll watch absolutely anything given the chance - you can find her also on her blog, http://www.popcornandglitter.co.uk Twitter: https://twitter.com/sophieathawes