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The obsessive lover is the very life blood of many low-budget direct-to-video films, though a few have found success on the big screen. From mixed up teenagers to crazed career women, the jilted partner is a mainstay of Hollywood, a cherished character that has long kept audiences in interest with their sexual appetites and homicidal tendencies. With Broken Vows, the tradition continues, though this time it’s a man behind the outrage but he’s just as familiar as the others.
We meet lovely Tara (Jaimie Alexander), a leggy brunette out to the clubs with a few gal pals on her bachelorette party weekend. She spots an attractive man behind the bar serving drinks and with little hesitation, slinks her way over and the two make a connection. He’s brooding, tattooed, dark and mysterious. She’s hooked. The next night, after thinking about him all day, she goes back to the club and finds him. It’s not long after that they are in his apartment and under the covers. Her search for one last fling before she ties the knot is complete. For him, it’s something else entirely.
He is Patrick (Wes Bentley) and to say he likes Tara would be a gross simplification. After their night of (surprisingly dull) sex, she sleeps and he hand-washes her dress and hangs them (along with her panties) in the shower. He then, by himself, tattoos her name on his arm. Needless to say, when she wakes, all of this is more than disturbing. She makes a hasty exits, much to his displeasure, and heads home to her fiancé Michael (Cam Gigandet), hoping it will all be behind her. But whoops. She left her phone at Patrick’s place and naturally, it’s unlocked. Believing Tara is the true love of his life, Patrick goes on a mission looking to win back his angel.
Directed by Bram Coppens, in his debut, Broken Vows follows faithfully in the tried and true footsteps of many before, briskly telling a well-worn tale that hinges on a simple premise. With Tara’s affair behind her, the rest of the film relies on her constant fear of being found out, trying to keep Patrick out of her life while hiding the secret from Michael. But as her attempts to pacify and ignore him ignite a rage within, he goes off the deep end. With her smartphone, he goes about destroying her life, first with wedding plans, and then much more. Then it turns deadly.
While the cast does its best to keep the been-there-done-that script moving, none really give the film any weight. Alexander has the most screen time and is mostly convincing though the film doesn’t give her the chance to do much other than fret and worry. Bentley is suitably creepy, and he delivers his lines with appropriate chill, but he’s not that engrossing as a psychopath. Coppens is more content with slo-motion padding and obvious jump-scares than developing any depth. That’s mostly due to a paper thin screenplay that moves things along with the barest of momentum without any logic (Tara sadly goes to the bar and orders from Patrick something to make her forget, as if she’s unhappy and trapped, yet there’s not one indication anywhere in the story after to suggest that this is true). There is not one moment that isn’t in service to the next and outright saturated in banality.
Broken Vows is an astonishingly bland and predictable film that doesn’t offer anything new for the genre and relies on decades old clichés and tropes to tell a story with no surprises. You’ve seen this a dozen times before. And better.
Director: Bram Coppens
Writers: Jim Agnew, Sean Keller
Stars: Wes Bentley, Jaimie Alexander, Cam Gigandet