Directed by Nick and Becky Sayers
Well this is a first for me. One of the horror blogosphere's own Becky Sayers from The Horror Effect, with her husband has directed their first feature horror film. I know a few other bloggers have directed their own shorts or features but this is the first time I'll be reviewing one of my own brethren.
First, it's an accomplishment in itself to go out and go beyond blogging and making your own damn film. It's to be applauded on effort alone. The film was made in 2 weeks and a few thousand dollars. That's extremely low budget for even the lowest budget movies. From script to post production, the Sayers put blood, sweat and more blood into Break. The film is DIY filmmaking at it's most raw. Both Nick and Becky were Jack and Jill of all trades plus a crew and cast that were willing to go the extra mile. Kudos to them all.
But now let's get to the movie. Break is an experimental indie film that has a rawness that is not seen in many horror movies. But where it falls short, it makes up for with ideas. The ideas that flow from Break are interesting to say the least. The obvious comparison is that it is similar to The Signal. I kind of think Break is an indier version of The Signal. Same sort of ideas but set to scale.
I could easily classify this as a "descent to madness and paranoia" movie or "teens gone crazy battle royale" but somehow you can sense the idea of a good/evil paradox coming through. That's not to say it's a perfect film. It suffers from all the markings of a low budget feature film and is a little incoherent at times.
But for a first feature film, it's slickly done and tries to provoke you to think. That's worth something in my book.
Reunited for the weekend, a group of friends are driven to violence when an unknown force seems to bring out the worst in them. Who will be the first to break?
Going to breakdown the film by each 1/3 so you know what's the what.
The first 30....
The first half of the film is all set up as we follow a group of friends in Washington (state that is) as they party in a house in the woods. We get to know all of them and discover all their very unique personality traits. Michael is our level headed "hero", Kane our gun toting, beer drinking Stone Cold persona, Danny and Heather our normals so to speak. Running parallel is the story of Angela (Michael's GF, who oddly resembles Sarah Michelle Gellar to a tee) who lives in Cali.
It's your standard meet and greet for all of them. Angela however is soon abducted by Hector and they both begin to play a cat and mouse game of quotey quotables.
The next 30....
Soon, our house guests all start to hallucinate and de-evolves into madness. Flashbacked nightmares get everybody on edge and one by one they all start to go all homicidal. Soon Kane is hunting his prey with a shotgun as our cast dwindles away.
Meanwhile in Cali, Angela is seeing how demented Hector has become and he is the impetus for what the hell is going on.
The final 30....
All hell is breaking loose as the bodies pile up. Prey gets hunted and the hunter becomes prey. We get a thrilling conclusion and an ending that is bittersweet.
Wow I was vague wasn't I? OK, let's start off with the good. The film definitely has a nice look to it. Eerie shadows, a soylent green tint in some scenes and a few choice scenes of unrelenting violence. I'll admit, I could care less about those damn kids in that house. Teens going all crazy has been done before and I felt like I was watching a YouTube short.
What mostly intrigued me in Break was the scenes between Hector and Angela. Hector is a character who speaks in quotes from notable writers and authors. His reasoning for kidnapping Angela is cryptic but becomes clearer as the world is soon gonna go all apocalyptic. We don't know in the beginning why everybody goes all crazy but this gets explained by what I like to call "crazy talk" by Hector.
Angela somehow redefines "victim" with her backtalk. She criticizes his logic, insults him and seemed fearless. Their dialogue is cluttered with extra syllables and scrabbled words that kind of didn't make any sense. Why is Angela ridiculing some mad man who was about to kill her? I had to admit though, I wanted to know what they would do and say next. Their conversation is where the ideas from Break come from.
Good vs evil. Do all people have parts of the devil inside them? And if they do, does it all need to be triggered in some way and then we all"break" into madness? Sadly, we only touched the surface of this subject. I would have liked to have seen how this unknown force was handled by more characters. Our kids in the woods seem to easily become Jason Voorhees-es pretty quickly. Seeing their struggle to overcome or succumb to "the signal"would have been a more interesting thing to see.
On the technical side, Break also suffers from a few nauseous shaky cam moments and a few scenes of pure darkness. I'm not going to overly gripe about production here but it has to be noted. At times, the movie seemed to chug along into random filler moments.
The acting is tolerable but at times a little questionable. Upon seeing the death of one of their friends, the others didn't act so distressed. Umm their is a girl with a shotgun hole in her chest. I think I'd be a little shocked, wouldn't you? Some of the cast give no emotional ooooomph to their performances though the standout has to be Jonathan Bruno as Hector who plays an evil incarnate apprentice pretty well.
The dialogue is a little clunky. I'm not sure why but some lines seemed so out of place situationally. A quick exchange between Hector and Angela as Hector forces her to take a shower has got to be a total WTF moment. But I may be nitpicking at this point. The dialogue clearly pushed an agenda and taken as such, I see it as a necessary evil.
Overall Break earns points on atmosphere and ideology. It's clearly got a few wrinkles in it but it's a solid collared shirt of a movie. Break is a film that takes the conventional and mixes in the experimental. It's a cocktail some people may like and others will hate. But no matter, what you think of this low budget indie horror film, you can't deny that it was made for horror fans and for an audience that likes a little thinking in their horror.
Here's hoping it breaks through.
Slice and dice
That uncomfortable shower scene dialogue
The Jaded Viewer's Final Prognosis
The directors have sent Break to the Big Break Movie contest held by Rogue and AMC. If the movie makes it to the finals you can vote here.
Head over to the official site for more info and as always check out one of the best horror blogs out on the intertubes, The Horror Effect.
Check out the trailer below!