DVD. Trinity X.
paper, Break is pretty impressive stuff –
a brutal, gory and grim backwoods slasher in the great tradition
of the sub-genre, featuring a couple of inbred hillbilly psychos
hunting down a car load of tourist out in the middle of nowhere.
Hardly original, perhaps, but that’s not a problem if the
film delivers the goods. The fact that Break
turns out to be a crashing failure is, therefore, particularly
After a savage and impressively gruesome pre-credits sequence,
the film gets down to developing the story, introducing us to
four girls – Anna, Claire, Rose and Sarah – who are
taking a camping break out in the wilderness. An early encounter
with a weird looking hunter hints at bad things to come, but for
most of the first hour, the only really bad things on display
are the four leads. Because there’s something very off about
Break, and once you adjust to the muffled dialogue, it’s
easy to see what it is: while clearly set in America, all the
leads are very obviously German. They are not supposed to be German
tourists – in fact, an encounter with a fellow hiker who
is German makes this very clear – but the heavy
accents are quite the giveaway. You have to wonder what is going
on here. Did director Matthias Olof Ekh think audiences wouldn’t
notice this, or simply that they wouldn’t question it? Did
he think that having his cast pretend to be American would somehow
make the film more internationally commercial? Doesn’t Germany
have forests and woods where a film like this could take place?
It might seem a minor point, but it’s a massive stumbling
block that the film never recovers from. Apart from immediately
pulling the viewer out of the story, it also results in stilted
performances from a cast who are obviously delivering dialogue
that is not in their native language. I’ve not idea how
well any of the actors speak English in real life, but their one-dimensional
performances suggest phonetic delivery. I could be wrong - they
might simply be rotten actors. Either way, it’s hard to
find their emotional bonding and revelations of personal secrets
(Sarah has had a bad relationship break up and is pregnant) remotely
still, when the killers turn up – and yes, the sinister
character encountered earlier was not a red herring – the
ensuing slaughter is oddly uninvolving. There is a lot of nastiness
here – mutilation, dismemberment, disembowelling and a thoroughly
unpleasant rape – but none of it has any real impact. The
villains are not convincing, the victims too dull for us to really
care about their fate, and the whole thing feels weirdly detached.
There’s no sense of shock, of horror or of outrage, because
the whole thing is so blandly filmed. Ironically, I suspect director
Ekh was trying his best to be as offensively nasty as possible
– certainly, the blood-drenched rape scene is shot in an
utterly gratuitous manner, there’s even more gratuitous
nudity and the gore is extreme. It’s quite an achievement
to make the end results so dull.
It’s a real shame, because a film like this should work.
God knows, it’s worked often enough in the past. But in
all honesty, it’s pretty weak, and the first disappointment
from the Trinity X label.
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