The Breach - New Release Review
Director: Rodrigo Gudiño
Starring: Allan Hawco, Emily Alatalo, Natalie Brown, Wesley French
Written by: Nick Cutter, Ian Weir
Produced by: Pash Patriki, Slash
Cinematography by: Eric Oh
Original Score by: Slash, Aybars Altay
Counting down his last days as Chief of Police in the tiny town of Lone Crow, John Hawkins must investigate one last case when a mangled body with uncanny wounds washes up on the shores of the Porcupine River.
A wooden canoe drifts lifelessly towards the shore of an idyllic river picnic spot where a family discover it and scream in unison at what they find inside. This is the set up to 'The Breach', an indie horror inspired by H.P. Lovecraft, based on an original audiobook by Nick Cutter and directed by the founding editor and publisher of Canadian magazine Rue Morgue.
Part mystery, part cosmic horror tale, 'The Breach' is reminiscent of a horror video game that slowly unravels with each clue found and heavily inspired by some of the genre's big screen classics. Allan Hawco stars as John Hawkins aka Hawk, the Chief of Police in the sleepy town of Lone Crow, who is getting ready to pack up and leave. But before he does he has one last job to do; investigate the brutal discovery of a man's savaged, boneless body on the shores of the Porcupine River. The body is really just a damp lump of skin and organs but one thing Hawkins does notice is that one of the victims hands has an extra finger. Hawk, his deputy Connie and their pathologist friend Jacob quickly come to the conclusion that no animal could have done this and that something extremely sinister is going on. No shit! They are joined by Meg (Emily Alatalo) After some standard detective work, the team identify the body as particle physicist Cole Parsons and their findings lead them to an abandoned (albeit slightly upscaled) cabin in the woods where they come across Cole's work and eventually his wife Linda (Natalie Brown), who had arrived the night before and began her own search for he missing husband and daughter.
'The Breach' is a lot of fun and although not entirely original it holds and delivers the tension quite well considering it's working within a smallish budget. Allan Hawco, Emily Alatalo and Natalie Brown are all really solid and seem to have decent chemistry onscreen. Wesley French has some hokey moments as Jacob and I think that may have more to do with the relationship subplot between him, Hawk and Meg, which felt a little unnecessary. It didn't really add anything to the plot and doesn't have any pay off either, it just felt like it was added in to flesh out the runtime. Adam Kenneth Wilson plays Cole Parsons a bit over the top from the moment we meet his character. Maybe that's what the director demanded from him but I would've preferred his evil to slowly reveal itself, even over a brief couple of scenes, rather than instantly knowing he was the cause. He felt remorseless from the first second we see him. There were shades of Jack Nicholson's portrayal as Jack Torrance from 'The Shining'. There's another nod to Kubrick's classic when Linda limps up a flight of stairs dragging an axe beside her, which brought a smile to my face.
The film also borrows some sequences from other iconic horror films. Notably the location is a callback to 'Evil Dead' and there's a cool chestburster scene which is a wink to 'Alien'. A bathroom mirror scene is clearly an homage to Cronenberg's 'The Fly'. Towards the end when Hawk and Meg are trying to escape there's a real feeling of 'Night of the Living Dead' too, particularly when Meg is set upon by a horde of what can only be described as skinless humanoid creatures with extra eyes, fingers, mouths. And that's another positive the film has going for it. The make-up and special effects are extremely well produced. There's a good bit of gore when the film needs it and there's a cool scene where flesh is ripped off a man's body. The creatures at the end do become a little bit too "man in a costume" like, particularly because they are shown in broad daylight, but that's fine, it still works perfectly well but the sequence lacks a bit of tension.
There's a large particle machine shaped like a giant keyhole that looks pretty cool but really stands out as just a set decoration at times. And it's also a bit too reminiscent of something that happened recently in 'Stranger Things'. I'm also never really a fan of conversations that happen via a pp on a laptop screen. It happens a few times here and to be fair neither conversation last that long but it just never sits well with me visually.
'The Breach' certainly doesn't reinvent the wheel but if you're a fan of Lovecraftian tales and especially a film like Stuart Gordan's 'From Beyond' (although this isn't in the same league) then you will probably enjoy Gudiño's film. It had just enough body horror to keep my interest peaked but never really had me on the edge of my seat.
- Gavin Logan
'The Breach' is available on Digital Platforms from Monday 10th July