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Broken Shelter Short Film Review


Directed by: #TimHewitt

Written by: #TimHewitt


An alien invasion and a terrorist attack might have the same aims, but on-screen, while one can have silly moments with sky-high explosions, the other begs for nuance and sensitivity. A terrorist attack could happen to anyone, and although the incidents are rare, the BBC news alert beep is ingrained in your brain. Terrorism isn’t something to be trifled with, and it’s challenging to get the balance right between fact and dramatization.

Broken Shelter bursts out with a home-style shaky cam and a greige tone. Nuance and gentleness are not in its nature. Tim (Kobna Holdbrook-Smith) has been dumped by his girlfriend, Jade (Jaye Jacobs) and wakes up on her couch, a mountain of his bags beside him. They have a final, silent breakfast, and the crunching of toast can’t even mask the awkwardness. Suddenly, an explosion rattles the flat - and it’s not a gas leak. Hewitt’s short film is bizarrely convoluted for its runtime and seemingly simple premise. It’s implied that Tim had an affair with Jamileh (Anabel Kutay), who works in the shop downstairs. It’s an unnecessary layer to Tim’s relationship, which does very little to add any depth to the three characters. Instead, this infidelity drives an unnecessary wedge between them, and this tension is miraculously resolved by the end.

This isn’t just a situation where Tim and the others can just wait for it to all blow over. Instead, it’s rapidly clear that one of the people gathered from the street after the initial blast is actually a terrorist (Lara Peake), with a bomb vest strapped on underneath her jacket. Instead of grabbling with the moral implications of saving a person who intended widespread death and destruction, Broken Shelter collapses into a flurry of catfights. This film is desperate for violence when it really needed to hunt down a lucid script with fleshed-out characters. Tim is the typical action hero whose arc hinges on whether he can get back with the girl and save the day, and the terrorist has all the conviction of a Scooby-Doo villain. There’s a statement about Muslims and Islamophobia that isn’t developed enough to add any gravitas to the situation. At worse, the religious motivation for the attacks is so crudely slapped onto the film that it is just an excuse to intensify the plot.

Broken Shelter might look like a bit of home footage found after the terrorist attack. But the sloppiness encountered in the other aspects of the film is probably far from intentional. Terrorism is only a theme where a skeleton plot from an action movie is crudely placed on top, and it leaves the film on shaky ground.



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