There’s a winning business idea tucked into the 93 minutes of the grief, guilt and its consequences drama “Rebroken.”
The film features Tobin Bell, the Once and Always “Jigsaw,” as a sort of inscrutable therapist members of a grief self-help group sneak off to see for life-changing advice, or perhaps a supernatural “do over” of the event that killed someone else and broke them. And hearing Bell’s mesmerizing growl of a whisper, dispensing the wisdom of the ages — in fortune cookie-length bites — made me wonder why he’s never turned that into an opportunity.
A Daily Affirmation by Tobin Bell seems like a website begging for our money.
“Sometimes what we think is lost is not lost at all,” life coach (Guru?) Vaughan intones. “It just needs to be rediscovered.”
He’s put a memorization mantra on LP for his latest grieving visitor (Scott Hamm Duenas, also credited with co-writing the script).
“You mind is open, you heart is clear, now open both to what is dear.”
The movie may take forever to begin, not deliver much at all when it does and end a lot less cryptically than those who wrote it think. But the owlish, soft-spoken Bell has little life lessons aplenty, just as he did in the “Saw” movies. Only this time, there’s no booby trap to lop off your fingers or grind down your scalp.
“Folks don’t always like what they discover about themselves,” Vaughan says, a warning label for ayahuasca if eve I heard one.
Duenas’s Will is the sullen guy sitting through grief group meetings, by court order, challenged to “share” his story by the group leader (Alison Haislip), badgered by cop and meeting member Bryan (co-writer Kipp Tribble) as he heads out the door after each session, dead set on walking to the liquor store and then back to his house, where a missing child’s magnetic letters still decorate the fridge with “I love you Daddy.”
Lydia (Nija Okoro) is the group member who would love to amend Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s “Five Stages of Grief/Dying.”
“There ought to be a sixth step...Reversal.”
She’s the one who tips Will about someone who could REALLY help. That’s how he tracks down Vaughan in a puptent on the outskirts of town. And once we get past the outrage that “NOBODY puts Tobin BELL in a PUPTENT,” we listen as he counsels Will. Whatever he’s selling, he’s giving it away. And whatever that is, you’ve got to accept it on faith.
“Listen with a clear and open mind,” he says. And here, have some LPs. Vaughan has recorded affirmations to listen to until you doze off.
The script contents itself with suggesting something supernatural is going on without verifying it. Will sees messages in the fridge magnets. He feels the presence, sees toys and hears the voice of his dead daughter.
Might the rest of the group want access to this? Could the group leaders feel threatened by this “cure?
How much of this is like that nightly plunge, face-first into water that will drown him, that Will takes in his dreams?
You might be able to boil what’s going on here down into a passable “Twilight Zone” script — the 30 minute episodes, not the 60 minute ones.
The performances aren’t bad, with Bell adding value well above his weight class, something he does in many a no-budget mystery, thriller or horror tale these days.
But there simply isn’t enough here to hold one’s interest or justify that 90 minute investment in time. And there was never going to be enough to “Rebroken” to justify moving Tobin Bell into a puptent.
Rating: unrated, some violence, alcohol abuse, profanity
Cast: Scott Hamm Duenas, Alison Haislip, Nija Okoro, Kipp Tribble and Tobin Bell
Credits: Directed by Kenny Yates, scripted by Scott Hamm Duenas and Kipp Tribble. A Gravitas Ventures release.
Running time: 1:33