The Broken (2007)

An older man looks at himself drinking a glass of whiskey in the mirror

Doubles and clones are endlessly interesting. But as exquisite as the cinematography is in The Broken, and as electric as Lena Headey is in the lead role — I could watch her walk moodily around dark London apartments all day — the pacing tested my patience.

The McVey family have a birthday gathering for widower patriarch John at his London apartment. After he tells a grim story involving swapping lubricant for superglue, he gives an end-of-meal toast, and a mirror falls off the wall smashing on the floor. Over the coming days each person at the party is visited by a cold-hearted döppelganger that breaks through a mirror in their home to replace them.

It has an interesting premise that doesn’t feel fully developed, but there are some excellent kill scenes. Dark versions murder the real. X-rays reveal the reverse of what should be. Intimacy is in short supply. The camera pans slowly around empty spaces, shadows are left in the frame after characters have left it, and there are startling moments as the doppelgängers step into the light.

I can’t quite figure out what the story is supposed to mean. John is a US ambassador, lonely, misses his dead wife, and seems traumatised by his children surprising him for his birthday. The lubricant-superglue anecdote brings laughs to the table, but is seriously unpleasant and is the inciting incident to the whole film. Is it to illustrate their darkness and make them worthy of the mirror people’s arrival? Maybe. He seems broken, but most of the others aren’t, so is he visiting his brokenness on them? Who knows?

All films in 2023’s #31DaysofHorror…