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Breakdown (2020) Review

If the poster for Thomas Haley’s (Slice & Dice, The Crossing) film Breakdown makes you think of I Am Legend, that’s no coincidence. There are several similarities between that blockbuster and this microbudget thriller. With a few thrown in from The Omega Man for good measure. There are also, as you can probably guess, a lot of differences too.

Breakdown opens with a woman (Jessica Cameron, Human Zoo, Puppet Killer) finding a dying man (Alexander T. Hwang, director of Prey in Cold Blood and Lilith) on a beach. He’s one of the first victims of a pandemic that quickly ravages much of the world. A pandemic, that in a prophetic touch, (the film was announced in 2014), is marked by a persistent dry cough…

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Tim Reynolds (Thomas Haley) is infected but has somehow managed to avoid being taken to a quarantine center. He and his furry sidekick, a white mouse named Rufus, take up residence in an abandoned medical facility of some sort. He has some leads and a few serums given to him by another doctor. But they all seem to fail at the final step. He has to find out why before he becomes another victim.

Much of Breakdown is a one-man show. Reynolds works on his research, wanders around the building talking to himself and occasionally a mannequin named Gabriel. At one point, though, during a game of chess, Gabriel does turn into Corey Sorenson (Patchwork) and talk back to him. It’s a partly creepy, partly funny scene.

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Along the way, he does run into a few other survivors. He has to deal with a pair of looters, Cutter (John Marrott, I Trapped the Devil) and Otis (Jerry Broome, Remnant, Death on Demand). And he finds a young woman Kimberly (Brooklyn Haley, Paranormal Attraction, Camp Twilight) who he nurses back to health. While it’s not a big role, it was nice to see Brooklyn play a part that’s different from her usual cute, scream queen/final girl roles.

There are also a couple of flashbacks to his pre-pandemic life, beautiful wife (Elise Angell), Rolex, M3 convertible and a few regrets. He keeps calling his, I would presume now evacuated, house to hear his daughter’s voice on the answering machine. It’s a nice humanizing touch.

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I would have preferred a bit more action, but Haley and writer Dan Jagels keep the film focused on Reynolds; personal breakdown as much as on the breakdown of society. There are a couple of plot holes, and the lack of background on the disease is disappointing. But overall as a drama/thriller, Breakdown is quite good for something done on an extremely limited budget. I’d like to see what Haley could do with a bit more resources to work with.

Breakdown is available on Amazon Prime US/UK and Vimeo on Demand worldwide from Avail Entertainment. You can check their Facebook page or the film’s page for more details.

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