There comes a point in everyone’s life where they have to decide what they are going to do with the time they have. Some people want to blaze a new path for themselves to assert their own independence. Others feel more comfortable falling back in the familiarity that has come before. In Edward Drake’s Broil, family legacy is at the heart of the matter. The Sinclair family is a peculiar one; they are notable in the community for their immense power and wealth. But they are also spoken about in hushed tones, as a sinister air surrounds this long standing dynasty. The atypical nature of the family is even a mystery to Chance Sinclair (Avery Konrad), the teenage granddaughter of the intimidating patriarch of the family, August (Timothy V. Murphy). After a violent altercation at school forces her to go be home schooled by August, she soon begins to question everything she knows about her family.
In all honesty, this should be about the extent you know about Broil before heading into it. As someone who went into the story essentially blind, I was riveted by the deliberate doling out of information. The story unfolds non-linearly in chapters, introducing characters and developing backstories before culminating at a fateful family dinner where all is revealed. Konrad is quietly compelling as Chance, a sweet but restless girl who suffers from a medical condition that requires frequent blood transfusions. She is rightfully frustrated when she is sent to live with August, as he registers as someone she barely knows. What she does not know is that she is reluctantly being used as a bargaining chip by her ambitious mother, June (Annette Reilly), in a bid for family freedom. Murphy, who has made a living out of playing villains, is so fantastic in this menacing role. He communicates so much with the subtlest of body movements, rarely having to raise his voice to make a point.
The other main component of the film is a seemingly autistic twenty-something chef played by Jonathan Lipnicki (Jerry Maguire). He is the chef who has been coerced into presiding over the important family dinner where everything comes to a head. He is not just a normal chef, though, as the movie carefully reveals through deliberate plotting. He is a quiet soul who only speaks when he has something important to say, and he has a lot to reveal about the Sinclair family when he meets up with Chance in preparation of the family dinner. I have personally not seen Lipnicki in much since he was a cute little kid, but I was thoroughly impressed by the subdued charisma he brought to this role. If there is one thing this film has going for it, it is the spot-on performances by all of the main cast members. By the time you reach the pivotal dinner, you are deeply invested in how the story is going to shake out and who will make it out alive.
The first hour of this ninety minute movie had me completely hooked with its slow-build of anticipation towards these familial revelations. It left you breadcrumbs throughout that pointed you towards possible explanations, but you were still left unsure until you finally got towards the end of the film. I was so ready to write a glowing review as I made my way through this story. Unfortunately, the film kind of falls apart in the last thirty minutes. I was satisfied with the semi-ambiguous revelations concerning the true nature of the family, but I was sorely disappointed with the way in which it handled a major character that had been built up to be important to the story. Nothing about the handling of the story felt bold, only lazy and ill-conceived. There was also the fact that the last five minutes felt incredibly slapped together with additional discoveries that held no weight within the story. This does not completely ruin everything that came before it, but the fact that the creative team was on pace for a fun bit of essential horror and they just fumbled it at the end zone is frustrating. The film is still worth checking out for the really fun and inventive first half that elegantly develops a compelling throughline.
Broil comes to Blu-Ray with a gorgeous AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 2.39:1. This is not a film that is bursting with colors, but everything appears very natural from the greens of the foliage to the pops of color in the production design. The color palette mostly remains natural, but some scenes favor a blue or red push that serves the film well. Where the transfer really shines is the impressive level of detail in even the subtlest aspects. Everything from the smallest facial details to the texture of the food is precisely detailed here. The picture is mostly clear with only brief instances of murkiness during a few darker scenes. The film does deliver some softer shots for creative reasons on occasion, but nothing too distracting. Black levels could stand to be a bit deeper, but at least skin tones are natural throughout. The film sports some luscious cinematography, and that is showcased pretty well here. Overall, this is a fine looking transfer.
The film comes with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that is quite powerful, if not a bit too much so in certain respects. Environmental effects are a huge part of the film, and this track brings these elements to life quite capably. The use of the rear channels to create a fully enveloping world works quite well. The main issue with the track is the fact that the mix for the score is simply overwhelming most of the time. There are numerous instances of dialogue being nearly imperceptible because the score is so loud. When dialogue is not being backed by the score, it sounds crystal clear within the speakers. Activity in the low end delivers quite a jolt during much of the presentation. Well Go USA has delivered a fierce track for a film that could have used a little tweaking in the sound mixing department.
- Trailer: The minute-and-a-half long trailer establishes the unique atmosphere of the film without giving away too much of the plot.
Broil is a film that had a ton of promise starting out, but faltered under the weight of its own storytelling. There is a lot to love here, and the film should still be experienced, but be prepared to be dissatisfied by poor narrative decisions. Well Go USA Entertainment has delivered a typically solid A/V presentation for those who do decide to check out the film. At the very least, it is worth checking it out to see what a strong actor Lipnicki turned out to be.
Broil is currently available to purchase on Blu-Ray, DVD and Digital.
Note: Images presented in this review are not reflective of the image quality of the Blu-Ray.
Disclaimer: Well Go USA Entertainment has supplied a copy of this disc free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.
Dillon is most comfortable sitting around in a theatre all day watching both big budget and independent movies.