Author Nick Cutter (pen name for Craig Davidson) is known for pretty gross horror in the book community. Having read his novel The Troop, and classing it as one of the most disturbing and disgusting books that I’ve ever read, I knew that The Breach, the film adaptation of his audio drama of the same name, was going to be a film that incorporated body horror and moments designed to amaze the audience. And whilst there are some visually spectacular moments throughout The Breach, the rest of the film seems to struggle to keep the viewer’s attention.
The Breach begins with a family picnic by the river coming to a horrific end as a small canoe floats up to the shore, containing a horror within. John Hawkins (Allan Hawco), the chief of police for the Lone Crow reservation, is called in to investigate the event, interrupting his plans to pack up and move on from the community. Hawkins and his team examine the gruesome remains within the boat and come to the conclusion that it belongs to a physicist who’s been working out of a remote cabin further up the river. Hawkins recruits his ex, and local boat charter guide Meg (Emily Alatalo), and coroner Jacob (Wesley French) to travel with him up the river to find the cabin, and see if they can get answers to the gruesome mystery.
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From the first moment the camera gives us a glimpse at what’s inside the small boat that made its way down the river it’s clear that The Breach is going to be a film that relies on disturbing imagery to get under the viewer’s skin. There are moments in this film that, much like with Cutter’s previous work, feel gross, disturbing, and otherworldly, and play on very visceral and primal fears about injury, personal safety, and infection (themes that seem to be pretty consistent in his work). And it seems like a great deal of time and effort has been given over to these moments, with some truly superb special effects and practical make-up work that is some of the best a smaller budget horror film has managed to achieve. There are moments when you’ll want to stop looking at the screen thanks to how disgusting events are, yet your eyes are glued to it in awe as you try to figure out how certain things are done.
Sadly, the film can’t rely on special effects and shock moments to keep the audience entertained, and the rest of the time is filled with the central mystery and interpersonal drama. The team that Hawkins has put together to go looking into this strange death might be the most practical one on paper, but reality says otherwise as he has to deal with his ex, and her jealous ex. Thanks to Jacob having dated Meg before Hawkins did, and still harbouring feelings for her, there’s some tension between the two men; added into this, it’s clear that there’s still something between Meg and Hawkins too.
Unfortunately, the moments in which the film tries to address this complex cauldron of love and resentment end up becoming the worst parts. The dialogue is incredibly clunky in places, with the characters saying things that might sound cool on paper during the first pass, but just don’t work in the moment as the actors say them, coming out as very canned and corny. It doesn’t help that the delivery in these scenes just doesn’t seem to try hard to sell these moments either, and it feels like the actors themselves knew these parts of the film are the boring bits and just phoned it in.
The film’s central mystery has its interesting moments, but also fails to really do much. We get answers, the film provides explanations, but it also feels like a lot is left unanswered, and that the viewer is expected to go along with the leaps in logic and the odd series of events because they have to in order for a story to happen. Having only just watched the film I think that I’d struggle to explain it to someone, and that lack of ability to fully grasp both the motivations and the methods of the characters responsible for the events of the film leaves it feeling rather hollow.
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Another issue that I encountered was the score, created by one of the film’s producers, the musician Slash. There are times where the music just doesn’t match the tone of the scene, and where the things you’re seeing and the music you’re hearing feel like they’re from movies with a very different tone. The romantic scene, for example, loses much of the charm it could have had thanks to guitar riffs that litter the moment.
The Breach feels like a film that’s trying to be bigger than it is, spending a lot of money on the special effects but falling short on actually succeeding. It looks good, but a series of lacklustre performances and music that often pushes you out of the moment end up creating a movie that is quickly forgettable.
The Breach will be available on Digital Download from 10th July.