Everyone has those days when they don’t want to get out of bed, dreading the day ahead and it’s arduous tasks. But as a carer, those feelings don’t matter when someone is relying on you to live their life.
Shaun Robert Smith’s Broken screened at this year’s Frightfest, opens with live-in carer Evie battling with herself to get out of bed as tetraplegic John, whom she cares for, calls over the radio for her. She doesn’t rush to his aide, and he switches between pleading and shouting abuse, causing to question if Evie is neglecting him or his abuse is the reason she’s hesitant to help.
John, once a rock star who’s injuries stem from a drug-fuelled leap from a building, continues his reckless partying, drinking, and smoking, leaving Evie to feed him, run around after him, and clean him up after his binges cause his bowels give way.
There is a sense of sensitivity somewhere with John in the way he does need her and speaks to her but it’s as if he loses his sense of self and returns to attacking her out of spite for his helpless situation. Evie takes all this as she’s stuck in the job until her boss can move her on; alone in a new country; she hasn’t got another other choice if she wants a roof over her head.
The film reflects this sense of entrapment for both Evie and John, with a feeling of claustrophobia in the small house with low lighting and tight framing of shots. Sympathy and frustration are felt toward both leading characters as the internal struggles of both are played out through some wonderful performances by both Morgana Alaoui and Mel Raido as Evie and John respectfully.
While the film presents itself as a bleak social drama at first, the tone skews with creepy whispering and horror tropes such as playing with the lights. While this balances out as revelations of Evie’s old life and her internal struggle come to light, these devices used sometimes take away from the drama happening on screen.
The character study is executed well and with a dramatic third act, the film is a thoughtful experience. It’s a shame that some things are taken away from the plot and the emotion by trying to make it more stereotypically horror-like.
Broken, released on October 24th, is available to pre-order now through iTunes and the following platforms: Amazon, Google Play, Microsoft Xbox, Sky Store, Vubiquity