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Written by Jim Agnew & Sean Keller
Directed by Bram Coppens
Starring Wes Bentley, Jamie Alexander, Cam Gigandet, Alexandra Breckenridge
Release Date: October 11, 2016
Broken Vows is a modern twist on the classic plot line perhaps most famously done in Adrian Lyne’s Fatal Attraction. In this film, the gender roles are reversed, and a potential wedding is the lynchpin of the plot. The writers, Jim Agnew and Sean Keller, have a resume, writing for horror maestro Dario Argento in 2009’s Giallo and for Oscar winner Nicolas Cage in 2014’s Rage. The director, Bram Coppens, is making his feature film debut and thankfully for him, he has a good cast with a truly creepy lead antagonist.
Broken Vows is not a great film, but the cast and specifically the performance of Wes Bentley elevate this above the formula.
Tara (Jaimie Alexander of Thor and Blindspot) is on her bachelorette party in New Orleans. She walks into a bar and makes serious eye contact with bartender Patrick (Wes Bentley). The movie does not tip toe through the opening act. It’s clear that Tara is out to have a good time, and she has a clear connection to Patrick right away: he’s cool, good looking, and has nice tattoos. Within the first 15 minutes, they’ve met and hooked up. It’s the afterwards where things get weird. She wakes up and Patrick has washed her clothes, and wants a romantic breakfast. She’s clearly under the impression that this was a hook up and nothing more, but then he reveals he spent the night tattooing her name on his arm while she slept. Suddenly, she’s hoping to have just made the walk of shame. Instead it’s clear she needs to get out of there fast.
In her hurry, she leaves her phone and Patrick now has insight into her life through photos and social media. She is engaged and ready to marry Michael (Cam Gigandet). She thinks her little tryst is over, but Patrick obviously does not. There is great scene here with a long tracking shot where Tara comes home to find two glasses of wine waiting. She carries them downstairs to the shower and undresses to join Michael, except it’s Patrick there. Wes Bentley is so good at being slowly creepy. He’s been perfecting this role since 1999’s American Beauty. Last season on American Horror Story he was truly epic as the serial killer villain. Here, he redefines methodical. There are long moments where he just sits and actually builds tension.
The game of cat and mouse continues as Patrick starts cancelling Tara’s wedding plans. Soon her friend Debra (Alexandra Breckenridge) refers her to a private eye to stop Patrick from interfering in wedding plans. We know there is an inevitable conclusion to the tension. And yes, it’s an obvious one, but Bentley and Alexander sometimes by sheer force of will make it work. My main issue with Broken Vows is that it wants to be Fatal Attraction-like, but it’s not erotic enough to be Fatal Attraction and Bentley’s crazy is way more subdued and methodical than Glenn Close’s Oscar-nominated performance. That said, for a 90-minute thriller starring some popular and good-looking young actors, it’s pretty good.