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LEON’S BROKEN MIND From the moment I placed this screener disc into my player and was confronted by a main menu page depicting newspaper cuttings detailing how child abuse breeds killers, to the minute I pressed ‘play’ and read the opening text introduction of this 24-minute short, I was a tad concerned about what I was about to see.That introduction, in full:"Art mirrors the spirit of the age in which it emerges. In this case, an era of disillusionment, corruption and deception spawns a hopeless response in many."The images in this film do not reflect the mental or physical disabilities of the human race, but symbolises (sic) the moral state of the society in which we live."The following film contains disturbing images that will shock."All of which is played out silently; white text upon a black background.Then we meet Leon (Richard Robotham), a bearded loner of a man-child with serious issues and nothing in the way of social skills. He misses his recently departed mother, so much so that he’s plagued by the voice of his father who abused him as a child, and compelled to do awful things as a result.The first atrocity we witness Leon indulging in is biting off the head of his pet mouse ... and eating it.Then Leon ventures down to his local video rental store in search of a good horror film for the night. He chooses one called "The Kidderminster Killer". The store’s owner has no knowledge of the film or how it got to be on his shelves, and so gives it to Leon free of charge.Back in his festering home, Leon begins to watch the film – a cavalcade of gory depravities – and decides he likes what he sees. To the extent that he has a good wank over it, much to the appreciation of his father’s ghostly voiceover.Yeah, this is going to end well. It’s building up to something ... nasty. "Remember, to be free" the father tells Leon in one of his spiritual visitations, "the victims must be random". Yes, we swiftly have a psycho killer on our hands.But killing a dog is one thing. Can a simpleton who’s been left alone in the world with no guidance progress to the murder of fellow humans. Well, what do you think?Surprisingly well-lit and agreeably framed, this is an extremely good-looking and considered piece of filmmaking. Director Bazz Hancher is hardly showcasing, but nevertheless exhibits a fluid sense of storytelling and a strong sense of atmospherics. There is humour in there, but this also jarringly off-kilter – as well as being very British in its execution and feel.Performances are good for what they are, and there are some stunningly executed compositions in this enjoyable short. But, as mentioned above, Hancher doesn’t overplay the "Aren’t I clever?" aspect – he keeps things taut and harrowing, albeit shot through a quintessentially British quirkiness.This makes the gory denouement and the final act’s rape scene – explicit albeit brief buggery – all the more shocking.Aside from the reek of latter-day Hammer and early Pete Walker, I also gathered reference points such as Jim van Beber’s ROADKILL: THE LAST DAYS OF JOHN MARTIN and Jorg Buttgereit’s NEKROMANTIK. Whether I’m correct about these allusions, I’m unsure: but I was definitely taken back to these infamous films while watching this atmospheric troubler.A noteworthy name crops up on the closing credits: Thomas Lee Rutter (THE LAST ZOMBIE HUNTER).LEON’S BROKEN MIND is a weird, disturbing and effectively made short that demonstrates Hancher’s ability to progress, budget and material permitting, into some seriously satisfying horror filmmaking. This screener disc presented the film in a very nice, crisp and clean 16x9 picture, with choices of 2.0 stereo and Dolby 5.1 English audio.For more information, visit www.whiteravenfilms.co.uk.Review by Stu Willis Released by White Raven Films
The Good
At the beginning of Bazz Hancher's ultra low budget 24 minute film Leon's Broken Mind there's an onscreen message that reads 'Art mirrors the spirit of the age in which it emerges. In this case, an era of disillusionment, corruption and deception spawns a hopeless response in many. The images in this film do not reflect the mental or physical disabilities of the human race, but symbolizes (sic) the moral state of the society in which we live. The following film contains disturbing images that will shock'. After reading that my eyebrows were, understandably, raised, considering that it's highly patronizing to believe that the viewer isn't capable of deciding a) what the images purport to symbolize and b) whether those images are disturbing or shocking. My immediate concerns were then well and truly compounded by the fact that the film itself is little more than a try hard exercise in 'shock' cinema that fails to back up the statement's grandiose claims in any way whatsoever.The one note 'plot' sees Leon (Richard Robotham), a disturbed, unkempt young man, descending into murderous madness after the death of his mother leaves him grief stricken. With his mother no longer around Leon is unable to suppress the memories of the abuse he suffered at the hands of his now deceased father any longer. After renting a mysterious film containing all manner of sadistic delights, which Leon proceeds to masturbate to in a scene which conjures the image of a lonely Chat Roulette visitor, and suffering hallucinations in which his dead father urges him to kill, Leon embarks on a killing spree as ridiculous as it is contrived to cause offense. Animal cruelty (so badly faked as to render any possible revulsion obsolete), the murder of a pregnant woman and the raping of a disabled neighbour (complete with a briefly inserted shot of penetration) complete some kind of puerile checklist of supposedly taboo scenes before Leon mercifully puts himself and the viewer out of their respective miseries by topping himself in the bath. Shocking? No. Symbolic? Give me a break. As someone who grew up during the era of the Video Nasty (and we all know how tame they look in retrospect) this sort of shock for shock's sake stuff has been done to death. I'm all for a bit of outre, avant garde, non-mainstream cinema but only when it works. When it doesn't work, and Leon's Broken Mind never comes close to working, it makes for a pretty painful viewing experience. There's also the highly distasteful assumption that victims of abuse are essentially mentally ill murderers in the making to take into account, this erroneous stereotyping is lazy, crude and baseless in the extreme. The one shaft of light in this ill conceived slice of juvenile silliness is the moody, electronic score that brings to mind the sounds of many a 70s Exploitation flick.As I've stated in previous reviews I'll always doff my cap to anyone who gets it together to make a film and get it seen, whatever the budget and whatever the subject matter, but sometimes you wish they really hadn't bothered and Leon's Broken Mind falls into that category. Amateur actors aren't the problem here (though they don't help), it's the shoddy material on offer that really disappoints. I wish the film-makers all the best for their future projects but Leon's Broken Mind feels more like a film- making epitaph than a calling card.
The Bad
The Ugly
Leon's Broken Mind (short film) - A Review. OK, as you probably know, from time to time I get upcoming directors asking me to publicise their works and I’m always happy to try and help struggling independent filmmakers wherever I can. So when I was recently contacted by Barry Hancher to review his new short film “Leon’s Broken Mind”, I happily agreed. He did warn me in advance it was a bit “shocking”, but it wasn’t until I received the disc, I would find out just what sort of shock I was about to get. A few things to clear up before launching into my review, I am usually pretty lenient when it comes to casting my critical eye over these short independent features, as the film makers are working with limited means and are just trying to showcase what they can do, in the hopes of going onto bigger and better productions. It’s certainly not fair to compare them to mainstream Hollywood fair, so I do try and see past any short comings that these films may have Sadly, upon viewing this, I found I was unable to be as lenient as I normally am (for reasons that will soon become clear). Indeed, the original version of the review that I typed up was so scathing that I initially decided against publishing it. However, (for reasons I won’t bore you with) I eventually decided to try and tone it down and publish it anyway. So, at the risk of offending the director and entire production crew, here we go…. In a nutshell, the plot revolves around some chap with learning difficulties, who starts getting flashbacks about this old guy, who apparently abused him as a child. This causes him to freak out and go on a rape and killing spree, first he bites the head off his pet hamster and kills a dog, before moving onto people. The first one being a tramp, which he clubs to death with a brick, before attacking some pregnant girl with a knife. So far, so good. The film however then rapidly goes downhill, as we are treated to a scene of him jerking himself off whilst he watches some horror movie, which was most definitely NOT simulated. Yup, the actor actually gets “it” out and genuinely pleasures himself in front of the camera, which I don’t think anyone really needed to see. Then, we are treated to a scene of him abducting a mentally handicapped bloke in a wheelchair from outside his house, who he then tips onto his living room floor and proceeds to sodomise. And just so that the viewer was left in no doubt as to what was going on, the director decided to include a graphic close up penetration shot of someone actually being “cornholed” (to coin a phrase). At this point I reached for the stop button, not that I really needed to as I think my DVD player was about to projectile vomit the disc back out anyway. Which sort of left me wondering just what was the director trying to achieve here. Does he want people to see his film, or have them reaching for the off switch because they’re so grossed out? When the film first started I thought they were just trying to ape the plot of “Tony - London Serial Killer” or something like that, but as the film progressed I got the impression that the crew must have got drunk one evening and thought it would be a good idea to do their own version of “A Serbian Film” set in Kidderminster (that’s a town just outside of Birmingham for those not up on their geography). There were a number of problems I had with the movie, the guy in the wheelchair for starters. When we first see him he’s just sat outside the front of his house late one evening, which sort of makes you wonder why he was left out there at that time of night on his own?. Then when he gets abducted the next day, again he’s just sat outside his house. HAD HE JUST BEEN LEFT OUT THERE ALL NIGHT????? It was also kind of difficult to take the abduction scene seriously as the wheelchair guy kinda reminded me of Timmy from “South Park”. I know it’s unfair to criticise the acting in these sorts of features, but the whole scene was almost laughably bad, before it descended into a gross out, with the inclusion of the aforementioned penetration shots during the assault. I still have no idea how the film ended as I stopped watching at this point and have no desire to watch further, even though the film’s only about 25mins long and had only about 5mins left to run. It occurred to me the film makers were simply trying to make a name for themselves by doing something they considered shocking and controversial. However, when the viewer’s instinct is to reach for the off switch because they’re so revolted by what the characters are doing on screen, I think they clearly went about this the wrong way. Scenes like this might work for accomplished directors like Lars Von Trier who’s films are regarded as “art”, but horror film fans are a whole different demographic. Nobody I know of wants to see some overweight Brummie actor jerking himself off in front of the camera, or sodomising another actor in graphic close up, in what's supposed to be a "horror" film (these scenes could have been made similarly shocking had they just been simulated, and not shown for real). Anyway, that’s my two- penneth (and I dear say I am now well and truly off the directors Christmas card list this year). So to close this review I’ll simply say that in short, “I hated it” and that I sincerely hope the film makers learn from their mistakes when coming up with their next project. Notes about the director. Barry Hancher is a horror director based in Worcestershire, UK. His website can be found at www.whiteravenfilms.co.uk  Posted by Dark Angel at 18:11 
White Raven Films based in Kidderminster submitted 'The Rogue Filmmaker'. Makers of black comedy horror this independent film saw the director himself Bazz Hancher the subject of a spoof documentary where actors and extras from his films including his own brother and mother in law give frank and horrifying accounts of the twisted and depraved mind of the man behind 2011 short film 'Leon's Broken Mind'.Hancher's films aren't for the faint hearted or easily offended, so be warned and expect to be grossed out...... excellent! The film was co-directed by Bazz Hancher and Mike Scott.
The Rogue Filmmaker Review