GRIMMFEST 2016: My Thoughts On – Broken

At a horror film festival, it’s not outrageous to expect to see horror films. Shaun Robert Smith’s Broken is less of a horror and more of just a bleak drama…a very well acted, well directed and effective bleak drama, but one that needed a little more edge to it…

Broken is a brutally honest depiction of care-work and the director himself took inspiration from his own experiences as a care-worker when creating the concept for this film; originally a short.

Smith and producer/actor Craig Conway were at the screening to introduce the film and offered hugs to anyone who needed one after watching it. It would come as no surprise if they were taken up on that offer.

Smith works with his incredibly low budget well, creating an incredibly depressing atmosphere with his use of lighting and camerawork as well as making sure the audience knows that every character in this small cast is, in one way or another, broken.

The film centres around Evie (Morjana Alaoui – Martyrs), a French girl who has moved to England to begin a new life. She finds herself caring for John (Mel Raido), a tetraplegic who is both a sympathetic yet slightly aggravating character but the stresses of this job begin to bring back painful memories of her abusive past.

Evie’s depression is added upon by Dougie (Producer, Craig Conway), John’s best friend and a despicably violent and threatening man. Everything is slowly built up throughout the film ending with a surprisingly shocking and appreciated finale.

The acting is certainly the standout element here. Mel Raido in particular gives an excellent performance making you go from rather liking John and feeling sorry for his situation to wishing he’d just be quiet for a second.

This is where the brutal honesty of this film comes in to play. It is not afraid to show things exactly how they are which makes for some difficult to watch and very unsettling scenes but all that is to the film, and the director’s credit.

In such a small scale film as this, you can expect a somewhat slow pace. That’s not to say that pacing was a major issue in Broken but it’s worth knowing that it takes a little time to get to where it’s going. The slowness and quietness of the film suit it perfectly and that makes the shift into the explosive finale that much more appreciated.

There was a short Q&A session after the screening where Smith and Conway explained that there were talks to hire disabled actors for the role of John, but they ultimately found that Raido was perfect for the role and he certainly showed his dedication by spending time in a wheelchair to prepare. It was also revealed that the location they used for shooting was Raido’s childhood home.

His performance is appreciated a great deal more after gaining this knowledge.

Broken may not have been exactly what people were expecting and it is certainly not one that can be recommended to those who are not willing to watch 100mins of bleakness and depression but the performances and the direction make for a very effective and meaningful film…and the ending…well, it’s worth staying for.

Stay tuned for more reviews coming out of Grimmfest 2016 all weekend!

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