Edgar Allen Poe’s short story William Wilson meets Hitchcock’s Marnie in Cashback writer and director Sean Ellis’ second feature.
When beautiful and seemingly stable radiologist Gina McVey (Lena Headey) wakes in a London hospital following an encounter with a mysterious doppelganger her life turns into a walking nightmare. Life has become metaphysical mystery where even her beloved family has something to hide.
The Brøken marks a huge step in the right direction for the obviously gifted Ellis. Clearly something of a labour of love, the film is a mature work of all too rare and literary illusion (Poe and Hitchcock aside, Ellis has also clearly been reading his Norse mythology about the vardøger — the spirit predecessor who is seen performing another’s actions in advance. Maxim Gogol’s The Nose may be an influence as well). That it ultimately doesn’t quite work is mainly down to Ellis’ pedestrian script and flat direction but there’s plenty to commend this very British horror. Headey is great as the troubled protagonist and she receives decent support from a good cast that includes US character actor Richard Jenkins (Six Feet Under, The Visitor). Guy Farley’s score is fantastic and editor Scott Thomas keeps things tight but unfocussed. The Brøken is of particular interest when compared to Basil Dearden’s underrated 1970 film The Man Who Haunted Himself (available on DVD) starring Roger Moore, the last doppelganger psycho-thriller set in London.
Selected release from Fri 30 Jan.