When the Bough Breaks (2016) Review

when_the_bough_breaks_2016_film

A rich couple faces the difficulty of having a child and decides to take up surrogacy. They think they have found the perfect candidate in a shy but sweet young woman. When circumstances cause the woman to move in with them, they learn that she’s not as innocent as she appears.

There comes a time every year where a Lifetime-y film involving a stalker/obsessed villain is released in cinemas. More often than not the film is either awful or just hilariously bad. Previous films such as Obsessed, Tyler Perry’s Temptation, and most recently The Boy Next Door, and The Perfect Guy come to mind. When the Bough Breaks is the newest entry in that collection. Fortunately, Bough is actually above average compared to the aforementioned films. For starters, it adds something more into the mix of the obsessed story in which a child is involved. In this sense, it’s not as simple to kill of the villain or get rid of her. The couple sincerely wants this child and the husband is hell-bent on handling the situation however he can. Unlike those other films, they either take themselves too seriously that they end up just bad, or they are bad and over-the-top. When the Bough Breaks takes itself just seriously enough for it to actually keep your attentions and not groan or roll your eyes in annoyance or laugh at its stupidity. The script actually takes its time to build the situation and its characters before it finally goes into full-on suspense. On another note, the characters are very well-established. The main couple is actually very likable and you care about them. The husband isn’t a dumbass, and the wife isn’t overreactive. They have a struggle but they don’t let it necessarily come between them. As far as the antagonist goes, there is actually backstory given to this character to give a better idea of who she is and why she is how she is. Never once is the character acting extremely eccentric or unbelievably senile. As a matter of fact, the character is written in a semi-realistic way. My biggest complaint about the script is that while the final act has its suspense, they definitely could have made it more bonkers. There are some predictable moments involved (hint: there’s a cat), but for the most part it keeps you wondering just what this couple is going to do about their situation. And this might be nit-picky, but there was really no reason to make this couple rich, had it been a normal suburban type couple, you would have a better time relating to them.

Going along with the well-written characters are the very solid performances by the cast. Morris Chestnut stars as the lead, and plays the role convincingly as a man who is determined to make his wife happy while trying to do whats right. There are even moments when he conveys some emotion that is very lacking in films of this kind. We see the man break and fears of what the outcome could result in. Regina Hall, whom most know from her perfect comedic performance in the Scary Movie films, turns in a very surprising performance. At first I didn’t think I’d be able to separate her from Brenda, but Hall sheds that image completely. She shows that she is capable of tackling serious and emotional roles like this one. Like Chestnut, Hall conveys the perfect amount of emotions without phoning it in. She plays it out to where you really feel sorry for her and worry for her. Finally, there is newcomer Jaz Sinclair, whom after starring in the John Green film adaptation Paper Towns, is turning to bigger things outside the teen fiction genre. Sinclair perfectly captures the innocence of her character that Chestnut and Hall’s character fall for. But as the film progresses, she does a fine job of showing the gradual change from innocent to psycho. But at the same time, we see the tortured woman we learn about during an investigation of her character. This results in us being unsure whether we really do want to hate her and ultimately die, or if she’s someone worth pitying.

When the Bough Breaks isn’t a “great” film by any means, but it’s definitely above average for a film of its kind in terms of tone, script, and performances. If you’re looking for something a little different that takes itself just seriously enough, give it a try.

3.5/5

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