Double, Double, BROIL and Trouble

BROIL (2020)
Written by Edward Drake & Piper Mars
Directed by Edward Drake
Produced by John Alviz, Corey Large, Kashif Pasta
Not Rated

Mr. Timothy Harvey and I have been hard at work preparing for our new Halloween-premiering show called Foreign Bodies, in which we review movies and opine on the topic of foreign horror. “Hard at work” translates to “not much down time”, which further translates to “late on my review for the move BROIL”. A pity, because this thriller came out on October 13th on digital, Blu-Ray and DVD, and you guys could have joined in on the family mayhem before now.

Fortunately, for all concerned, there’s still time left ere Halloween is upon us, so try to squeeze this one in.

Director Edward Drake brings together Jonathan Lipnicki (Jerry Maguire, Stuart Little), Avery Konrad (TV’s Sacred Lies, TV’s Van Helsing), Lochlyn Munro (TV’s Riverdale) and Timothy V. Murphy (TV’s Snowpiercer, National Treasure: Book of Secrets), for this Gothic tale of family discord. The plot involves a troubled girl sent to live at her draconian grandfather’s creepy (but gorgeous) estate, where she uncovers a dangerous ancient family secret. Her only hope for survival may come from a killer-for-hire with a fortuitous stroke of culinary genius.

This movie strikes a lot of the same chords as Ready or Not and Knives Out do, but with a soupçon of Food Network thrown in. Don’t worry that the movie gets bogged down with step-by-step instructions for swoon-worthy dishes. While the food prep and consumption of the food provide crucial plot points, and while the dishes are beautiful to look at, truly the focus is on the family members and the tension between them as they jockey for position.

The cast is all quite capable. Jonathan Lipnicki’s appearance in the film surprised me; I wasn’t aware he’d been quietly and consistently working since Stuart Little. Mr. Lipnicki creates a quiet, awkward, genius-level character who is probably on the spectrum. I love that he’s able to eke out a strongly sympathetic character despite the narrower range of emotional responses available to him. Timothy V. Murphy as the family’s patriarch is a scene-stealing machine. Equal parts creepy and mesmerizing, he absolutely convinces as a man certain of his own superiority, who’ll brook no dissent…and that accent.

Early on, the film hints that there may be “more” going on here than the family drama inherent to generational wealth. The film has some interesting ideas about what the “more” is, and gives us a few intriguing details. My main beef is that we don’t really get to mine the mythos as much as I’d have liked; it had potential.

As a seasoned horror enthusiast, I’m not often surprised anymore by the manner in which protagonists ultimately prevail. It’s my gift, it’s my curse. However, the ending here was fairly clever and not what I expected; well done to writers Edward Drake and Piper Mars. A final reveal about the characters’ relationship to one another, however, felt afterthought-ish. The movie would have ended more strongly without it cluttering the otherwise satisfactory conclusion.

The Canadian setting and Gothic tone are beautiful, the score by Hugh Wielenga lends to the sense of urgency in the film, and the special effects are respectable. If you want something that scratches that Ready or Not itch for Halloween, this’ll get you there.

Distributed by Well Go USA, BROIL has a runtime of approximately 90 minutes and is not rated. The titillating trailer can be found here.

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