Produced by Jorge Flores Rodriguez and Alex Ferrari
Cast: Samantha Jane Polay, Paul Gordon, Derek Evans, Amber Crawford, Tony Gomez, Jose Luis Navas, Howard Dubinsky, Deidre Washington.
Rarely do unfunded independent filmmakers make a brilliant first effort with production values that rival fully funded projects. Broken (2005), a flagship short by erstwhile post production editor Alex Ferrari, is one such. Showing the directorial experience of over 200 TV commercials and the editing of two feature films, Broken is Ferrari’s directorial debut. First and foremost a showcase of polished visual effects, the cinematography and soundtrack are also accomplished. The story is both atmospheric and punchy, with a twist you will not see coming.
Bonnie wakes suddenly at night to a gunshot, or it may be from a nightmare in a storm. This ambiguity is a subtle, sinister presence throughout the film’s 19 minute length, during which Bonnie (Samantha Jane Polay) finds herself abducted by a coolly sadistic scarface called Duncan (Paul Gordon). While she is taped hand and foot to an antique wheelchair and still in her nightie, the sadist by turns lovingly strokes her face, rips the tape off her mouth and compares her to the harmonica he plays. “Like you,” he comments with smiling menace, “its complexity lies within its simplicity.” His analogy for what one does when a reed inside is broken is applied with terrifying effect to the helpless Bonnie.
Her torment takes place in what looks like (and is) the disused and decaying basement of a derelict hospital building. Everything looks dirty, broken and abandoned. The colours are monochromatic grey-greens with focus points of crimson and rust, adding to the atmospheric nightmare quality. Duncan’s entourage includes a beautiful, vicious, red-haired assistant called Marquez (Amber Crawford) and various brutal or menacing-looking, tattooed individuals, who look on impassively. Their sole purpose, says Duncan chillingly, is to kill Bonnie.
The twist at the end is untelegraphed and intriguing and it’s a mark of the layered power of this film that in a second viewing, where we have a different interpretation on the action, the interest is even more compelling. Several interpretations are possible, without marring the elegance of the film’s impact or diluting the clarity of its central premise.
Paul Gordon’s evilly playful portrayal of the sociopathic Duncan is riveting. Samantha Jane Polay is a believably terrified Bonnie, with a surprising hidden resource which is a keyhole special effect to myriad character implications. A soundtrack by Mark Roumelis adds dimension to this satisfyingly well crafted thriller from writer/director team Jorge Rodriguez and Alex Ferrari.
Broken was shot on two miniDV cameras for the total, ridiculous cost of $8,000 and has over 100 VFX shots, over twice as many as some big budget SFX films. I’m looking forward to seeing what this immensely talented and creative team can do next – hopefully with some serious funding.
© Avril Carruthers 15th August 2005
What do you think of Broken
Share your opinions on our forum