Directed by Edward Drake.

Starring Jonathan Lipnicki, Avery Konrad, Timothy V. Murphy.

Horror, US, 90 minutes.


Reviewed as part of Arrow Video FrightFest Digital Edition 2.


After a violent incident at high school Chance Sinclair is sent off to live with her estranged grandfather August in his vast mansion in order to correct her behaviour. A family with mysterious and strange customs, Chance’s regular blood transfusions for an unexplained ailment as well as a slight aversion to the sun just being a couple, they are set to gather together for a family meal. Chance’s mother and mute father however, have their own plans to make this a memorable dinner, especially when August presents them with a fatal deal that will put Chance’s life in danger.


Employing a tricky structure that slides back and forth in time, BROIL is a film that keeps its cards close to its chest, revealing its large number of surprises and twists until the last moment as much as possible. The horror savvy among us will no doubt guess as to the nature of the Sinclair family but even then it manages to pull out something a bit more unusual than the typical horror staples. At times it runs the risk of confusing the audience with its slippery nature, wrong footing the audience but not in a good way thinking it is cleverer than it actually is.


The introduction of chef Sydney, played by a grown-up Jonathan Lipnicki now unrecognisable from his debut in JERRY MACGUIRE, is handled less than skilfully and takes the focus away from Chance, who then takes a back seat for the rest of the film. It seems awkward for awkwards sake and has the film come close to wobbling of its carefully laid tracks


For the most part however BROIL is entertaining in its myriad mysteries and family conflicts that make it a little reminiscent of last year’s READY OR NOT. Its sizable cast gets to grips with the films blackly humorous tone, particularly Timothy V. Murphy as August, a man who can not help being sinister even when being friendly. Lipnicki fits in well with the proceedings despite his clumsy entry point into the film. His character, socially awkward, high IQ and a mysterious past also stands out amongst the cast of bloodthirsty and backstabbing dinner guests.


Increasingly dark, it takes a near Shakespearian turn with its bloodthirsty family drama with one particularly surprising reveal that stands out amongst the films otherwise darkly humorous tone. Even then it still has surprises to share right up until its slightly muddled conclusion.


With its slight missteps in storytelling BROIL still manages to be never less than entertaining and engrossing throughout. Whilst it may stumble at times this is due to an ambitious drive on part of the director Edward Drake, making his debut here, as well as co-screenwriter Piper Mars. This ambition is not something that they should be criticised for and marks them out as creators trying to do something different with the story they are telling instead of relying on the usual cliches and tropes. With a greater degree of control in indulging their creative touches they may get more successful and even more entertaining with their next project.


Iain MacLeod.


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