Broken Darkness is a post-apocalyptic thriller that initially plays out in the fast paced manner that would be expected. Sam (Sean Cameron Michael) lost his son during a meteorite strike that ravaged the planet. Eight years later, he is working safely in an underground mine. He has found a new sense community while tries to move on. A sudden attack forces Sam to change his life.
The premise is Dystopian Future Fiction 101, and it works well enough at first. Uninfected humans live underground in safety. Those infected by dust from the tail end of the comet lived in a zombie-like state on the surface. When danger is introduced into Broken Darkness, it is familiar and provides the expected amount of danger. As Sam and Rose (Suraya Santos) try to reach the surface, their bond grows.
Broken Darkness takes a drastic tonal shift once the duo reach the surface. Things move from a sci-fi thriller to a more somber reflection on life.. The tension of leaving the dark tunnels becomes replaced by long conversations and scenes of the pair looting homes. The excitement from before is all gone. There is certainly a place for that theme in this type of story. It is just not executed very effectively.
The sudden change could have worked if the plot eased into it. Instead, the change just happens almost from one scene to the next. Broken Darkness is only connected by its characters at this point. This may be the biggest issue with the film. They were already the center of attention when things were more action-oriented; at this point, they are asked to carry the more philosophical messages. The events of the film make knowing its leads important, but little insight is given into them.
This is most evident in Sam’s backstory. Broken Darkness makes the death of Sam’s son a seemingly deep part of his character. As the film progresses, this becomes less important. It is a strange decision that begs the question why it was even mentioned in the first place. Rose may actually be more shallow, but at least there is never even the tease there is something more to her.
The worst part of this is there are a lot of good things happening in the film. The settings look great and writer-director Christopher-Lee dos Santos knows how to create a tone. The actors do the best with what they are given, making things as interesting as possible. Ultimately, Broken Darkness is an erratic story with some decent moments.
Broken Darkness is in select theaters and on demand October 29
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