Arrow FrightFest October Digital Event – Film Review – Breeder (2020)

This dangerous Danish horror will shock you to the core…and then some

Mia is married to a sexually aloof businessman with his fingers knuckle deep in some very unethical pies. Suspicious of his activities she tracks him to a sinister facility where she is forced to witness and endure some of the most debasing misogyny ever committed to film.

Director Jens Dahl’s modernist survival horror is a mean spirited tale of biohacking that harks back to the notorious heyday of the ‘New French Extremity’. Clearly a castigation of the disenfranchisement experienced by many young people across the globe, it is also one of the most disturbing horror films of the last decade.

Take all you know about the abuse of animals in the dairy industry and apply it to a group of terrified women cowering in piss soaked cages and you will get the general premise of Breeder. A vicious call to arms in the fight against the privileged few, who see the suffering of their fellow humans as collateral damage in their crusade for superiority.

In this case, it is the quest for an enhanced life span through the medium of biohacking that leads to the horrific maltreatment, both physically and mentally, of kidnapped women forcibly inseminated and then robbed of their offspring.

The facility responsible for such abhorrent scientific experimentation is under the callous control of Dr. Isabel Ruben. A steely snake of a woman who makes Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS look like a Buddhist life coach. Worse still is her two utterly merciless henchmen, reduced to the aptly base sobriquets of Pig and Dog. God-tier sadists whose idea of kindness is to urinate on a still sizzling branding blister as anaesthesia. To illustrate their casual disregard for the women’s lives the walls are decked in the blood-streaked hospital gowns of their victims, framed like prized football shirts.

The clientele hoping to receive the regenerative fruits of this degenerate institution consists of rich insecure men, so desperate to reclaim their youth that any ethical investigations are rendered moot. You get the impression that even if they knew the horrifying methods, they would still turn a blind midlife crisis eye.

When Mia is incarcerated within this brutal system of dehumanisation she uncovers a spirit of survival that enables her to fight back with surprising ferocity. Played with believable intensity by an excellent Sara Hjort Ditlevsen, Mia is no stranger to a bit of self-administrated sadomasochism. Indeed, you may never look at a pair of riding boots in the same way. However, this trait is presented to us under the banner of reclaimed sexual autonomy, in juxtaposition to the perverse sexualised torturing at the hands of Pig and Dog, in a move typical of this films complex gender warfare.

If all this sounds overly exploitative, well that’s because it is. What it isn’t is badly made. Like Martyrs, before it, Breeder has a stylish swagger that dares you to question its artistic integrity, with superb acting and crisply dynamic cinematography. Considering the overtly grim subject matter it retains a glossy sheen that disturbs further in the context of its full send mega violence.

Humanity is standing at a crossroads of decision making that will determine if it wants to allow the privileged few to continue to prosper unopposed at the expense of the vast majority of the population. This angry and barbaric film unleashes a primordial roar in the face of global apathy and dares us to pick a direction that will set us on a path of empathetic healing.

Savage, scathing and endlessly inventive in its relentless provocation it drags the women in chains picture to a new level of subversive neurosis.

★★★★★

UK Premiere

Horror Thriller | Denmark 2020 | 107 min| Cert.18 | English Subtitles | Beo Starling | Frighfest October Digital Event, Oct 23rd, 2020 | Dir. Jens Dahl | With: Sara Hjort Ditlevsen, Anders Heinrichsen, Morten Holst