A gunshot sounds and Bonnie (Samantha Jane Polay) sits bolt upright in bed. It's still the middle of the night - has she been dreaming? Not being able to get back to sleep right away, she heads for the kitchen and fetches a carton of milk from the refrigerator, but is startled by the figure seated behind her. Suddenly, Bonnie is set upon by a woman hidden in the shadows and knocked out cold; when she awakes it's as if she's still in her nightmares and is not waking up...
Written by the Florida-based team of producer/director Alex Ferrari and his co-producer Jorge F. Rodriguez, Broken was obviously intended as a calling card for the film industry, and additionally an attempt to show that independent short films did not have to be two people talking earnestly in a empty room because that's all the budget can afford. Indeed, what they have achieved is undeniably impressive, a slick and glossy twenty minutes of suspense and special effects that could easily be the opening act of an intriguing thriller.
When Bonnie comes round she has been strapped to a wheelchair and is being transported to what looks like an underground room. She is then confronted with the harmonica-playing Duncan (Paul Gordon) who seems to know who she is, and asks her if there's anyone present who she recognises. Scanning the faces of Duncan's henchmen, the gagged Bonnie can only shake her head, and be terrified that he will torture her or worse. Information-wise, we're in the same boat as Bonnie, as we are aware of only what little she has seen.
Bonnie is interrogated in an "I'm not going to tell you what's going on" kind of way, which keeps us in the dark but it would have made the plot a lot more obvious if Duncan would just explain himself. We're not sure what the point of any of it is, yet for the short running time this does not become enough of a consideration to be a drawback, especially as there's a ninja-type figure with a big gun skulking around in the shadows, apparently unbeknownst to the kidnappers.
What does let the film down is its ending, which veers dangerously close to the dreaded "and then she woke up and it was all a dream" territory, but the bursts of action compensate as Bonnie is saved from Duncan's sly blether and weapons (he also shoots a henchman dead for interrupting him in true chief villain style) with tense fashion. What Broken does do is whet your appetite for more, posing questions such as, why do Bonnie's eyes glow blue when she's riled? It's tricky for film makers to keep so much from the audience and still hold their interest, but they manage it here. However, its frustrations could be remedied with a feature length version, which is unsurprisingly what was planned. Music by Mark Roumelis.