Breaking Nikki

Director: Hernan Findling (2009)
Starring: Maria Ines Alonso, Oliver Kolker, Veronica Mari
Find it: IMDB, Amazon

Following a traumatic breakup with his wife, Devon (Kolker) holds a hooker hostage and tries to train the poor ho (Alonso) up as her replacement. This being the day and age for that sort of thing, he does it with torture. Breaking Nikki is kind of like a Clockwork Orange or Pavlov's Dog sort of thing, only with a prostitute instead of a delinquent or dog. Her treatment at the hands of Devon is far harsher than being forced to watch TV or having to put up with a sodding bell. Devon tries to make Nikki truly believe that she is ex-missus Susan. This is achieved by submerging Nikki in a cold bathtub, locking her in a cupboard and doing bad makeup on her. There's also a use of clingfilm I've not seen before (well, outside of certain specialist material) and a number of surprisingly good twists.

Things to do with clingfilm no.101: The Ho Wrap

Breaking Nikki is a behavioral study. But it asks existential and philosophical questions too. If you leave a battered hooker in a locker for days on end, is that hooker dead or alive? Just like that question about the cat. I for one am glad it asks these questions, because I'd quite like to turn a hooker into my ex too. It's a how-to guide for psychopaths and people who like kidnapping prostitutes.

Competent direction, good acting and engaging characters save this from being the simple bargain basement bullshit that its Straight To DVD status might suggest. The torture is gruesome without overpowering the rest of the movie, and Nikki's plight is easy to sympathise with. It puts me in mind of The Loved Ones, only without that flick's sense of humour or awesome soundtrack. It's a grotty movie and more than a little misogynistic, but still a cut above the usual torture toss about prostitutes and stinky basements.

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