The Brøken


by Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

If you speak Norwegian or Danish, it's "The The Fraction." Kind of an odd title, eh? The film has nothing to do with Scandinavia or with fractions, so I think that the people who decided on that spelling just thought the ø looked really cool, because Scandinavians are scary, with those blue eyes and those horned hats. Or something. As Count Floyd would say, "Pretty scary, eh kids? Aroooooooooooooooo!"

It's sorta like how they always turn the R's around in films about Яussia.

The Brøken (or The Broken) is a slick psychological/supernatural mystery in the Hitchcock/Serling style: lots of stylish design, lots of slow tracking shots, lots of foreboding, lots of people acting mysterious for no apparent reason. Usual deal. It is refreshing in that it is a major departure from the general direction in which horror films seem to be going these days. It is not particularly gory and it features very few "boo" moments. It tries to create its chills with an ongoing atmosphere of impending doom, and it tries to hold the audience's attention by pulling back the veils slowly, occasionally even increasing rather than decreasing the story's opacity.

Is that good? Well, maybe. It's a classy film, art-designed and sound-designed to the nines, filled with  expensive helicopter shots, a slow-mo car crash, and some dependable performers. Those are the good points. Those are also, in a sense, the bad points. The film's forward movement is so deliberate and so saturnine that the ongoing replays of the slo-mo car crash sometimes feel like the fastest parts of the film. To say that the pace is langorous is like saying that President Obama is kind of a bad bowler. This film isn't just moving slowly; it makes Solaris seem like the opening scene of Roger Rabbit. This would make a nice, nifty little 22-minute episode of The Twilight Zone. Unfortunately it is padded out to 90 minutes, and the extra 68 minutes are not filled with guilty pleasures, the way Brian DePalma would do it, but with footage of people acting puzzled and with the slo-mo crash being repeated again and again.

I guess I might have been able to live with the pacing if the basic premise had been plotted better, but it is one of those films where every scene is pushed forward with the gimmickry necessary to produce a chill in that scene, without regard for whether the entire story still holds up in the face of those gimmicks.


It's a doppleganger movie. Lena Headey spots another Londoner who looks just like her and seems to be driving her car. She follows her twin to an apartment, where there is an inexplicable picture of Lena and her dad (Richard Jenkins). Skip forward. Lena gets in a car crash and can't quite remember what happened, but all around her, people seem to be changing. Her boyfriend seems like a different guy. The world seems to have a Body Snatcher thing going on, presumably engineered from "beyond the mirror."

The big surprise ending is that the Lena we follow is actually the evil Lena from beyond the mirror. She killed the real Lena, then got in a car crash, forgot about the killing, and forgot that she was evil.


The important thing here is that virtually none of the preceding scenes make sense after that revelation. For example, Lena complains to the doctors that her boyfriend is not really her boyfriend. He seems like a different person. She was right, of course. The entity was not the boyfriend of the real Lena. He was the evil replacement from Mirrorland. The problem is, how could Evil Mirror Lena have known he was different? She never met the real boyfriend. What's more, Evil Mirror Boyfriend should not have felt "wrong" to Evil Mirror Lena, since he was the one she was meant to be with.

You can continue with those sorts of observations for virtually every scene. The script hides the secret from us in the clumsiest possible way - by presenting us with detail after detail that could not possibly be true, given the secret, then defying all the rules at the end and pulling the old soap opera switcheroo where the kindly babysitter who robbed the house turns out to be Ms. Evil Twin Sister, even though Ms. Evil could not have known the combination to the safe.


So I was not only yawning while waiting for the big secret, but I was also annoyed once I knew it.

But the film is technically superlative. So there's that.

It is part of the After Dark Horrorfest III (Eight Films to Die For Or it is available as a stand-alone DVD.


There are no major graded reviews on line, but the IMDb page has more than 30 reviews, including one from Variety.


6.7 IMDB summary (of 10)





It seems to have enjoyed some theatrical runs in Europe, but I could find no records to quantify that.






Lena Headey walks around naked in the dark. There is a continuity error. When she sits up in bed you can see that she is wearing panties. But when she walks away from the bed, her bum is exposed. Not that I'm complaining.

Michelle Duncan and Elle Crocker (Michelle's body double) show T&A. It's obviously Michelle taking off her bra, but after that I don't know which is which, or to whom the body parts belong. (It's a woman fighting her doppelganger.)




Our Grade:

If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to read the explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by our definition, a C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs and As. Based on our descriptive system, this film is a:


Very slick. And very soporific.