A happily married couple (Regina Hall and Morris Chestnut) are looking for a surrogate to carry their child. The young woman they choose (Jaz Sinclair) is sweet, kind-eyed, and 100% on-board. However, she is looking for more than a simple payment.
As simple as the tactics used are, the film takes its time to establish sympathy for the relationship of our protagonists, and it does this well. You’d be surprised how something as commonplace as parenthood can build suspense. That and minor psychological phenomena like the “foot in the door” concept.
When the Bough Breaks wants to be a sexy thriller in the vein of Obsessed or Chloe. They are all love-triangle suspense dramas meant to both titillate and awe, although they hardly ever do both successfully.
When the Bough Breaks begins with legitimate stakes and a strong sense of characters both good and bad. The rectangle of characters that we get creates adequate space for taut tension as we ramp up into the second act. The three acting performances from the leads helps this cause. Chestnut, Hall, and newcomer Sinclair all give good performances.
Still, the movie is missing something integral. Pacing is replaced by the repetitive promise of sexuality. Character motivations are hard to track. The taut thriller just isn’t as taut as it sets out to be.
The film initially sets out to create an antagonist with depth and motivation that is grounded in reality. This is quickly done away with and replaced by the basic antagonist that the trailer puts forward. This not only disappoints on a level of narrative, but it leads to a character that simply makes no sense.
When all is said and done, When the Bough Breaks is another love-triangle thriller that won’t survive in the memories of viewers beyond the end of the month.
When the Bough Breaks: D+
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—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)