Fantasia 2022 Review: THE BREACH, Squishy Lovecraftian Horror In The Woods
A police captain in his last days on the job gets sent on a mind-bending journey when a boat carrying a horrendously mutilated corpse ruins a family picnic in Rodrigo Gudiño’s latest horror story, The Breach. Based on the Audible original book of the same name by Nick Cutter, The Breach is a full-on goo-fest with atmosphere to spare. Gudiño’s second feature after 2012’s The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh, The Breach is a solid entry into the cosmic horror genre with a few neat tricks up its sleeve.
John Hawkins (Allan Hawco) is ready to leave Lone Crow. The town’s longtime police chief has a messy romantic history in this small rural town and is eager to dash off to the big city. However, when a body that has been mutilated in unspeakable ways appears at a family picnic, he goes looking for some answers, and he is not going to like what he finds.
Once the body is identified, Hawkins discovers that it belongs to a scientist who’d holed up at a remote cabin up river, and the only way to get there is by boat. Unfortunately for him, the person who knows the Porcupine River best is his recent ex, Meg (Emily Alatalo). If that wasn’t uncomfortable enough, he’s forced to bring along coroner Jacob Redgrave (Wesley French), another of Meg’s former paramours who still holds a grudge for Hawkins having “stolen” his girl.
When this unhappy family reaches the house rented by the victim, Dr. Cole Parsons (Adam Kenneth Wilson), it looks pretty haggard. Apparently, Parsons had been doing some very radical experiments with a homemade particle accelerator and discovered that there is something beyond our reality, and it wants to cross over.
Lights flicker, electricity hums and buzzes at odd times, a massive nest of unusual wasps on the porch, and a series of spontaneously locking and unlocking doors lead to mystery after mystery while Hawkins attempts to decode the atrocities that took place here. But when a couple of very unexpected visitors appear with knowledge of the workings of Parsons’ diabolical apparatus, this begin to really spin out of control and what was an interesting investigation becomes a fight for their humanity that they may not survive.
There’s nothing grandiose about The Breach, and in that regard it’s kind of a refreshing departure from a lot of recent horror entries that favor pathos over frights. That’s not to say it’s entirely empty, there’s certainly a lot of character work going on here, and the complex relationships between the trio of sleuths are well drawn, but they aren’t the purpose here.
The Breach toys with Lovecraftian concepts of unknowable evil and misshapen fiends who come to destroy and replace humanity with something more than human. Stuart Gordon’s adaptation of From Beyond is an obvious influence here with the old-dark-house motif and machines made to communicate with the other side. Even more than that, The Breach pays tribute to a classic era of ‘80s in which viscous goo was king, and for those of us who love a good gooey film, there’s plenty to enjoy here.
The Breach draws out its horror perhaps a bit longer than it should, leaving the audience in the dark to the real good stuff to a point that some might begin to wane. However, once the film turns from a creepy old house story into a full-on creature feature, the pace really picks up. The makeup FX by Daniel Baker and Chris Cooper show some solid creativity, forging monsters whose appearances leave the audience questioning what exactly it is they are seeing, though there are moments when they appear in full daylight that some elements don’t translate as well as we might like. This is the type of film that will likely benefit from home viewing, as these moments were a bit underwhelming on the big screen, even though the ideas are quite gruesome and fun.
Far from groundbreaking, The Breach is a perfectly adequate horror that is just good enough to slake the average gorehound’s thirst for blood, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. With big screen horror turning away from films like this, it’s nice to see that indies are still working in this world of solid programmers for viewers who are in the mood to see a whole bunch of squishy fun.