Updated: Jul 11
Lillian Likes... "A Broken Promise"
**This review may contain spoilers**
“A Broken Promise” is a part of a post-apocalyptic anthology called “Doomsday Stories” and this particular story follows the arduous journey of Rick and his dog Lucy as they travel by foot amidst the Meanies virus which has taken over the world.
The film opens on a cross, wind gently blowing, with a voiceover from the central character, Rick (Justin Bower), giving a very Spartan feel to the overall aesthetic of the film. This imagery was simple but powerful, and counterbalances the ominous threat given from Rick to “Emma and Grace.”
Lillian Likes…The drone shot above Rick as he walks down the country road with his faithful companion, Lucy. I always appreciate when independent filmmakers take that next step using drone shots for their films. And for this particular subject matter, it adds to the feeling of Rick’s being one of the only ones left.
Lillian Likes…The use of dilapidated scene locations as Rick wanders along, adding to the desolation of the post-apocalyptic setting.
Lillian Likes…The use of long shots of the main character as he walks alone. The director, Derek Braasch, made some good artistic choices utilizing the drone, as these long shots give the audience a sense of Rick and Lucy’s total isolation.
Lillian Likes…The writers, Derek Braasch and Nina Trader’s, use of foreshadowing at the very beginning. When Rick apologizes in advance for what he is about to do during the voiceover on the cross, I feel like it added to the suspense, which subsequently hung over the entirety of the film during Rick’s journey.
Lillian Likes…The long shot of Rick coming up to the crossroads. When Rick and his furry companion, Lucy approach a crossroads (another long shot), I found it to be an excellent metaphor for Rick’s pending choices and actions.
Lillian Likes…The score for this movie. The score was composed by Bobby Thompson, and perfectly captured the mood of film, as it felt tense, taught and suspenseful.
Lillian Likes…The casting choice of Justin Bower as the lead in this film. Justin Bower, who plays the lead Rick, was a great choice for this kind of role. Bower has lots of tattoos and a beard, and these physical characteristics embodied the ruggedness required for this type of role fighting virtually alone in the desolate landscape.
Lillian Likes…The scene where Rick encounters a child zombie. The Meanies virus has turned people into flesh eating zombies, and the scene where Rick breaks into a home and discovers a little boy zombie feasting upon the innards of the deceased resident to be disturbing in the right kind of way for this post-apocalyptic zombie film.
Lillian Likes…The use of locations. Score on the locations!! As an indie filmmaker myself, I know how challenging it can be to find good locations. The Cheevies Production team found locations at a bar/restaurant, and abandoned, dilapidated repair garage, and a church.
Lillian Likes…The editing done on this film. Bobby Thompson, the editor, really made good use of transitions between Rick in the current time and his memories of his life with his deceased wife. There is a scene where Rick enters a home, and the scene was cut together with a flashback of Rick entering the home with his wife, presumably it is when they first bought the home and are entering it ceremoniously for the first time. The transition was seamless and a strong creative choice to illustrate the two worlds of Rick. There were quite a few transitions like this in the film, contrasting Rick’s beautiful and happy past, with the now bleak future of this character.
Lillian Likes…The powerful message of Rick reliving his memories. Tying into the previous point of the transitions between Rick’s current situation and his past with his wife when things were normal, this underlying story unraveling more as Rick continues his journey added to the heaviness of the overall mood. As Rick continues on his journey, the audience feels the weight of the grief burdening Rick’s current actions and state of mind.
Lillian Likes…Justin Bower’s acting in the final sequence. At the conclusion of Rick’s trek through the bleak landscape, he ends up at a residence where he has a showdown with the residents demanding his daughter. This scene really gave Bower an opportunity to shine with his performance, as his delivery of lines was overlaid in total desperation and emotion.
Lillian Likes…The gore at the end of the film. Rick’s demise ends with a final showdown between John, played by Joe DeBartolo, who is Rick’s father-in-law and grandfather of Grace, who Rick has come to claim, and Carly, played by Nina Trader, who we can assume is Rick’s sister-in-law. Some independent films have a hard time getting right the special effects of death scenes, but I think this film gets it right in this scene.
Lillian Likes…The closing scene of the shadowing figure looming over the crib of a baby, who we can assume is Grace, Rick’s child. While some viewers may find it disturbing, it is left to the imagination of the viewer of what may happen to this child. The scene certainly leaves an impression on the viewer, making this film quite memorable.
Lillian Likes…The overall introspective feel of the film. “A Broken Promise” had the right balance of action and some dashes of horror, with introspection and character-driven inner struggles as Rick treks through the now abandoned landscape, dealing with the memories of a former beautiful life with his wife.
Lillian Likes… “A Broken Promise”
Part of Phil Herman's Doomsday Stories.
Written by Nina Trader and Derek Braasch.
Directed and shot by Derek Braasch
Edited and scored by Bobby Thompson
Starring Justin Bower, Lucy the Dog, Lillian Lamour, Joe Debartolo, and Nina Trader
Be sure to check out the film here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-EAAuyesV8E
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