Directed by: Tigran Sahakyan. Starring: Irina Antonenko, Denis Kosyakov, Andrey Nazimov. Runtime: 1h 25 min. Released: December 3, 2019 (DVD & Digital premiere).
Break is a Russian survival thriller starring five twenty-somethings celebrating New Years Eve on top of a mountain. Instead, they get stuck in a gondola lift on their way up to the mountain and make the best of it by partying hundreds of feet in the air over a mountainside. When the booze is gone, hangovers and misguided survival instincts take over.
I’m a fan of these one-location thrillers and the premise is what made me want to watch this. I noticed the 4.3 IMDb rating but I don’t go into a film expecting to dislike. I should have skipped this because it seems it was released for North American audiences in a terrible English dub instead of the Russian dialogue. This film is exactly why I can’t watch English dub-overs because it makes this honestly unwatchable.
It makes it harder to judge the acting. There are zero points where anyone can showcase good acting, other than a goodbye message like The Blair Witch Project. What I saw from the trailer on YouTube in its original Russian dialogue, Irina Antonenko seems totally okay as the star, Katya. I’ll generally never judge a performance based on a trailer, but I have to here because the terrible, flat English dub takes all the life out of the performances.
It’s just a bizarre thing that this film is so Americanized, with bad copyright free indie music to boot. It’s a little movie no one would widely see anyway, so an option to watch this with the original Russian dialogue would have been great. The rest of the film isn’t amazing, anyway. The character work’s one-note.
Katya wants to break up with her boyfriend Kirill (Andrey Nazimov), and the reason why isn’t really explained. There’s no chemistry either as their storyline is developed separately. Kirill decides not to get on the gondola because he’s missing his bag; and Katya’s insistent on staying on.
Kirill serves as more of a story device than person because he’s the only who knows they’re on the gondola. The reason why they’re stuck on the gondola is stronger than an irresponsible worker just leaving, but it’s a little cartoonish. The reason why they’re on the gondola so long is weak, and it’s because the mountain employees just use the other chairlift instead because the workers are too lazy to see why this gondola is stuck on its tracks. It’s lazy writing.
The character dynamics are boring, too. Denis (Denis Kosyakov) and Vika (Ingrid Olerinskaya) are a dull boyfriend-girlfriend couple on the gondola. The worst character is the single Roma (Mikhail Fillipov), at first appearing to be the comic relief but he turns into a cartoonish villain when his survival instincts kick in. I don’t mind when characters show their true colours and become villains because there’s a reason for it, but he just turns into a massive jerk for conflict.
As for the reason I watched this film, its premise, the execution of it is weak as it’s just a boring film. The ideas the characters think of to try get out of their situation are weak and most of the conflict comes from the horribly written Roma. When nothing about the film is interesting, it’s hard to create any tension in this situation. The effects don’t make it look like they’re convincingly suspended so high in the air. Director Tigran Sahakyan does a poor job of giving scale to their situation. My palms usually sweat easily in movies like this when because of the height or tension, but my hands were dry as a bone. If you want a film with a similar premise, Adam Green’s Frozen, about a trio of skiers stranded on a chairlift, is a superior film in every way.