Break DVD Review
Written by Ilan Sheady
DVD released by Trinity X
Written and directed by Matthias Olof Eich
2009, 87 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
DVD released on 16th April 2012
Lili Schackert as Sarah
Esther Maaß as Rose
Ralph Willmann as Samuel
Marina Anna Eich as Anna
Thelma Buabeng as Clare
Sebastian Badenberg as Phillip
Four teenagers leave their comfortable, American luxuries to go camping in the wilderness, unaware of the savage fate that will befall them. You can be forgiven for thinking you’ve heard this one before. I could quite easily be talking about Friday 13th, Wrong Turn, Cabin Fever or Evil Dead.
The twist in the tale that stands it apart from other stories of its kind? Actually, nothing, nothing at all. Apart from the fact that this is a German movie, with German actors, filmed in Germany, all pretending to be someone and somewhere else.
On paper this may seem like a trivial point but early into Break and the cracks in reality appear more like giant fissures. The first 30 minutes of the movie I spent obsessing over Rose’s (Esther Maaß) first scene where she is reading a copy of USA Today, which evidently is not enough to convince us that this could be America we are looking at. My advice to anyone else who wants to disguise their film as American is to watch more than just a few episodes of Sesame Street and you’ll realize that people don’t greet each other THAT emphatically or listen to country music on juvenile road trips. Add to that some of the most unnecessarily edited and cut sequences I’ve ever experienced (exactly how many cuts do you need of two people waving!!!) and you’ve got one looooong introduction on your hands.
Uncomfortable English aside, a lot of the conversations seem to be lost in translation. The friends get offended by the simplest lines, which only makes me think they all secretly hate each other and the last thing they need is some camping trip to help them to bond.
In the actresses’ defense it’s not until the brutality starts that you realize how good they can be and the time you spent laughing/mocking/hating them is quickly replaced with sympathy. Actor Ralph Willmann is horrifyingly twisted as the ‘bad guy’ and the gore effects are extremely impressive, but the physical and psychological torture instantly changes the film to something truly disturbing.
It’s unfortunate then, that the climax of the film feels a bit like a Benny Hill sketch and a paint-by-numbers as far as chase sequences and false deaths go. You could shout ‘SPOILER!’ at me but lets be fair, what you have going on in your head at the moment is a lot more original than this. Humorously hiding an unconscious friend under a sycamore leaf was purely to tick the boxes as far as I’m concerned. The only way you could be caught up in the twist and turns of this film is if this is your first ever horror film, in which case stop what you’re doing and watch something like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre instead.
It’s rather shortsighted and a little upsetting that director Matthias Olof Ekh, in this day and age, would think that disguising a film as American would make it more profitable. Movies like Switchblade Romance, Frontiers, Martyrs and Funny Games prove that Europe can be just as refreshing and frightening as its Asian horror neighbours. Should they ever choose to go back and remake the movie it would take less effort to make it a success than it would to make it a language barrier disappointment. Heck, even if only the killer spoke English, forcing the girls to communicate in a language that they aren’t used to, it would make the film more intense. As it stands Break is a victim of its director’s insecurity, but the film has some intense moments that still make it worth a watch if you can get past the drawn-out intro. Just keep reminding yourself, it’ll get better, it’ll get better, it’ll get better.
Video, Audio and Special Features:
Video, audio and special features will not be graded as this was a screener
Fun fact: Shotgun wounds to the chest are apparently not fatal.