"Predictable, Morally Problematic Melodrama"
WHEN THE BOUGH BREAKS is a thriller about what happens when a married couple uses a young surrogate mother to carry their baby, and the woman turns out to be unstable and dangerous, if not psychotic. WHEN THE BOUGH BREAKS is an overly melodramatic thriller with uneven pacing and a predictable storyline, plus strong violence, lewd content and a mixed pagan worldview promoting moral relativism.
WHEN THE BOUGH BREAKS is the story of John and Laura Sinclair. The married couple is madly in love and successful in life, but they’ve exhausted all options at trying to have a baby. In a desperate attempt, they hire a young woman named Anna to be a surrogate mother and impregnate her with their last embryo. Anna becomes their only hope at having a family, but there’s a dark side to Anna that neither of them suspects.
Anna’s violent boyfriend is arrested for domestic battery, so goodhearted John and Laura offer to host Anna in their guesthouse. When she accepts, Anna becomes intimately part of their lives, but develops inappropriate feelings for John. At first, John tries to ignore Anna’s advances, but when she becomes more and more obsessed, it becomes clear the life of their baby, and perhaps even their own lives, depend on John’s feelings for Anna. As Anna’s violent and disturbed past is revealed, John and Laura do whatever’s necessary to get rid of Anna while keeping their baby alive.
With a runtime of almost two hours, the pace of WHEN THE BOUGH BREAKS seems to drag. Most of the violence and suspense suffers due to melodramatic performances and an overdramatic score. Most of all, though, experienced moviegoers will find the movie’s plot twists are too predictable because the filmmakers apply overused, if not clichéd, horror and thriller movie tropes. Also, the movie’s climactic moments rely on plot holes and characters being irrational, such as a scene in the movie where a previously level-headed character decides to go up the stairs when she knows a killer’s in the house. The movie also suffers from one-dimensional characters. Anna becomes nothing more than a sex-object, with multiple, repetitive scenes of her removing articles of clothing in an attempt to seduce John.
At first, John and Laura seem like victims in the movie, and it’s refreshing to see the depiction of what a strong, loving marriage looks like on screen. However, when Anna begins to seduce John, he decides to keep this a secret from Laura in an attempt to protect her. This is only one example of the movie’s worldview that almost anything is acceptable in order to reach a desired outcome. Soon, John and Laura are justifying actions such as adultery, kidnapping and murder in order to get their baby. Ultimately, the movie says it’s okay to take the law into your own hands in order to get what you want. John and Laura claim they have no time to go to the police, or that the police wouldn’t listen to them about Anna’s condition. There is also the controversial matter of having Anna as a surrogate mother in the first place.
In the end, John learns he should never lie to his wife. This moral lesson doesn’t make up for the movie’s larger problem of the ends justifying extreme means, in a story full of violent acts, scenes of seduction and some foul language.
(PaPa, HH, Ro, BB, Fe, LLL, VV, SS, NN, A, DD, MMM) Strong mixed pagan worldview with people taking matters of life and death into their own hands and believing sometimes that anything is worth the end goal, with humanist elements where people take matters into their own hands by finding solutions in science rather than faith, some light Romantic ideals where emotions and personal needs are above logic and law and faith, but some strong moral elements that include married couple are committed to one another, they invite young surrogate mother carrying their baby to live in their home to protect her from violent boyfriend, and there are consequences for wrong behavior, plus some feminist elements where references to female empowerment are used to justify immoral actions; 16 obscenities, four strong profanities and nine light profanities, plus a brief moment of seeing a pregnant woman’s water breaking; strong intense violence with some blood includes multiple scenes of characters attacked with knives or blunt objects, a character is thrown down the stairs, allusions to sexual abuse, homicide, police photos of dead bodies, image of a decaying bloody corpse, scenes where characters are threatened, and other characters saying “I will kill her,” a character has bruises on her face from off screen domestic battery, it’s implied a character intentionally cuts herself somewhere with a razor blade, and blood drips into a tub, but she appears physically fine afterwards, a mutilated cat is placed into an empty baby crib as a mean prank, character shoots a shotgun at other characters, a character is violently and intentionally hit by a car; partially depicted sex scene between husband and wife, other sensual scenes between husband and wife, sensual kissing, surrogate mother constantly tries to seduce/proposition married man, married man’s wife tells him to pretend he loves surrogate mother for fear she might harm their baby, and he kisses her in a couple scenes, characters discuss the morality of asking out a younger woman, a character claims an affair with derogatory references to sex, and references to “going all the way” on a first date; partial upper female nudity from the side when a woman disrobes in front of married man to entice him, but nothing happens then, and nude woman goes swimming so there’s rear nudity from a distance, plus scenes with female cleavage; light alcohol use; one instance of smoking; and, morally relevant/questionable content such as the morality of having a surrogate mother for a baby, blackmail, lying, keeping secrets, revenge, and moral relativism that includes the heroes justifying adultery, murder and illegal acts.
WHEN THE BOUGH BREAKS follows John and Laura, a happily married couple, who’ve been successful at everything except having a baby. They hire supposedly innocent, young Anna to be a surrogate for their child, but she develops a dangerous obsession for John. This leads to a deadly psychological game. As Anna’s violent, disturbed past is revealed, John and Laura do whatever’s necessary to get rid of Anna while keeping their baby alive.
WHEN THE BOUGH BREAKS is overly melodramatic. The pacing is uneven. Also, the storyline is predictable, and the characters are one-dimensional. At first John and Laura seem like victims, and it’s refreshing to see the depiction of a strong, loving marriage on screen. However, when Anna becomes dangerously obsessed, John and Laura do morally questionable things. Soon, John and Laura are justifying actions such as adultery, kidnapping and murder in order to get their baby. The positive elements in WHEN THE BOUGH BREAKS can’t make up for the movie’s larger problem of the ends justifying means, in a story full of violent acts, scenes of seduction and some foul language.