Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Film Review: Brokedown (2018)

There is one word that perfectly describes the new indie thriller-horror Brokedown by Pole Star Studios - this word is “rough”. At first, this might sound like an overly simplistic description of a film that clearly has a lot of time and effort invested into it. Its runtime of about 90 minutes is packed full with a complex script and a storyline of multiple threads that weave into a single cohesive mesh at its very end. There is a clear sense that the film’s director and writer, John Reign, just like the cast, placed a lot of time and effort into the film. Yet, in spite of this, the roughness of the movie is the thing that left the biggest impression on me.

The movie premise is simple and will be familiar to most of the fans of the US cinematography. In it, a punk-rock couple of Stormy and Jason head off from a concert Jason just had. Immediately after it, in the midst of a heated argument, he proposed to his girlfriend and they decided to speed home to share the news. However, in their return journey, they come across a gas station deep in a place that can be only described as mountain hillbilly central. An altercation with a group of local men sets the stage for a bloody and tension-riddled film.

Sure, Brokedown has some of the practical roughness that regularly comes with any ambitious indie films. In some shots, the camera shakes or loses a bit of its focus. Some of them are framed ad-hoc. Some shots look stylish and beautiful, featuring a long exposition, which others seem almost documentary in their setup and execution. However, as the movie begins to unravel and reveal its truly disturbed nature, the same approach to cinematography begins to make sense. In the story and its supporting characters lie the true roughness of the film.

The hillbilly criminals, the corrupt local sheriff and his cronies, all of them are as if they just stepped out of a modernized version of Hills have Eyes or Deliverance (there is an especially gruesome homage to the latter film in Brokedown). Characters like Sheriff Elwood are immediately set up as the classic archetypes that lurk deep in places like the Ozark mountains. From the first moment, Jason and Stormy make the mistake of stopping at that pump, the film builds up its tension a notch at a time.

In it, the rough dialogues the character have are full of hate, spite, and threats, while their body language shows that the threats are real. The sheer nauseating moments of the threat of danger to the main characters or someone else are enthralling in their roughness. The actors, deliver the same tense dialogues in great style, never missing a bit and improvising when need be, all to great effect that enforces, again, their roughness. Finally, among all of this, the film features even a horror element that manages to weave itself into the story in an unexpected manner.

Rough as all of this might seem, Brokedown is a working and functioning indie film that might be rough, but is highly enjoyable. Anyone who appreciates the previously mentioned backwater classic movies should check this film out as soon as it appears on Amazon and Amazon Prime.

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