Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Breeder, from Denmark

This time it is a woman who is the Dr. Frankenstein-style mad scientist. Unfortunately, her victims are young, fertile women, so it is not exactly a blow against the patriarchy. In fact, the clients for her rejuvenizing fountain of youth services are all rich old guys. Frankly, the old Baron was a much nicer doctor of destruction (especially the Peter Cushing versions). In contrast, Dr. Isabel Ruben is utterly reprehensible in Jens Dahl’s Breeder, which releases today on VOD.

Mia Lindberg has an awkward relationship with her mildly wealthy investment manager husband Thomas, so she really has no idea how much he has been manipulated by Ruben. She knows he has invested in her rejuvenation process, but she has no idea he has also become an accomplice. Likewise, he does not fully appreciate the horror show she is running until it is too late. Mr. Lindberg vaguely understands she is keeping female subjects in her converted-factory research facility under questionable circumstances, but he gets a real shock when the abducted Russian au pair from across the street manages to escape and find her way back to the neighborhood.

Thomas delivers her back to Ruben, instead of the hospital like he promises Mia. However, when Mia follows them via the find-my-phone app, she ends up in a cell herself. Thomas is also a prisoner, but Ruben treats the money man somewhat better. However, her henchmen, “The Dog” and “The Pig” give Mia their regular treatment.

Dahl (who co-wrote Winding Refn’s
Pusher) brings a lot of gritty noir style to Breeder, but it is still a brutally violent and utterly joyless film. Trust me, there are a number of scenes you will want to fast-forward through. We do get some karmic retribution, but Dahl still can’t let viewers enjoy it.

Signe Egholm Olsen is icily sinister as Ruben, but again, only in ways that are uncomfortable rather than flamboyantly entertaining. Anders Heinrichsen probably gives the most interesting performance as the deeply flawed and equally complex Thomas. However, the deliberate lack of chemistry between him and Sara Hjort Ditlevsen playing Mia makes their relationship completely inexplicable, rendering it nothing more than a plot device.

I couldn’t wait for this film to be over. The ambiance and level of brutality is roughly equivalent to that of
Hostel and the like, if not more so. Sadly, there aren’t any substantive ideas to go with it, just a warmed-over teaspoon of class warfare at the very end. Not recommended, Breeder is now available on VOD platforms.