Movie Review: 'Rebroken' Wants You to Think it Might be a 'Saw' Movie
Just because it features the actor behind Jigsaw doesn't make Rebroken a Saw spinoff. In fact, it's not even a horror movie.
Directed by Kenny Yates
Written by Scott Hamm Duenas
Starring Scott Hamm Duenas, Kipp Tribble, Alison Haislip
Release Date March 7th, 2023
Published March 3rd, 2023
Rebroken is a bizarre amalgamation of religious drama, horror, suspense, and The Twilight Zone, maybe? It all makes sense but it's so drawn out and melodramatic it becomes impossible to continue to care or pay attention. The film promises to deliver actor Tobin Bell, Jigsaw from the Saw franchise, but he's barely here in a mysterious role where he plays a homeless Jesus figure or possibly the Devil? Maybe, he might be leading our hero astray or maybe he's neither of those things. Mostly, Bell is here to draw in horror movie loyalists who might assume that Rebroken is some kind of Saw offshoot. It most certainly is not.
Scott Hamm Duenas stars in Rebroken as Will, a struggling alcoholic sentenced to take part in a grief support group. Will's daughter died while in his care, while he was crawling inside a bottle of whiskey. Will's life now. after her death, day to day, never seems to change. He has the same dream about his daughter dying, attends his support group, walks home, grabs a bottle of whiskey and a microwave dinner, and drinks himself to sleep. This happens every night and we watch it happen over and over again with little variation until we are begging the movie to do anything different.
Rebroken finally shifts the story when one of Will's fellow support group members, Lydia (Nija Okoro), points him in the direction of a mysterious homeless man. Von (Tobin Bell) speaks cryptically about Will being on a path and appears to promise Will that his daughter will come back if Will stays on the path and listens to what Von has to tell him. Von gifts Will a series of records labeled with bible verses that feature Von narrating vaguely spiritual, vaguely motivational aphorisms that seem to awaken something in Will.
The drama or suspense at play is whether Von is an angel or a demon. Is he here to help or is Von a figment of Will's imagination. Meanwhile, the leaders of Will's support group, Bella (Alison Haislip) and Bryan (Kipp Tribble), also exist in some nebulous role that might be good or might be evil. One of them may be responsible for the strange and threatening messages that appear on Will's refrigerator via alphabet magnets. Refrigerator magnets have a significant role to play in Rebroken. I guess that's unique.
The aesthetic of Rebroken is low budget, sets are drab and minimalist in an attempt to hide the cheapness. The cinematography is television quality, nothing about the production and design of Rebroken is memorable or really worth discussing at all. And thus, we are left with a series of performances that fall on a scale from quite poor to not completely terrible. Naturally, the veteran star Tobin Bell is typically pro level, acting circles around his less well known and less skilled co-stars.
Lead actor and co-writer, Scott Hamm Duenas is not bad but he's hampered by a deeply confused story that is centered almost entirely on a misconceived Twilight Zone twist. Rebroken isn't embarrassingly bad but it is a deeply confused film with an ugly low budget aesthetic. Tobin Bell delivers a pro-level performance but he's so much better, even on auto-pilot, than anyone else in the movie that it exposes the rotten core of the film's flimsy premise. Is Rebroken secretly a religious film masquerading as a suspenseful drama while using Tobin Bell and a very odd title as marketing hooks? Yeah, actually, that's probably what Rebroken is.
I mean, here's the thing, I can't tell you what the title Rebroken is about. Is it a concept? Why would something need to be Rebroken? Is it Will that needs to be Rebroken? He already seems pretty broken so what would it mean for him to be Rebroken? Rebroken is a word, it's a past participle of Rebreak which means exactly what you think it does, to break something again. What does it mean in this movie? I have no idea, the concept doesn't seem to apply to anything of particular in the movie.
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About the Creator
Hello, my name is Sean Patrick He/Him, and I am a film critic and podcast host for Everyone's a Critic Movie Review Podcast. I am a voting member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association, the group behind the annual Critics Choice Awards.
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