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Title: When the Bough Breaks

Movie: :2.5stars:
Video: :4.5stars:
Audio: :4stars:
Extras: :2stars:

HTS Overall Score:74

It’s been a while since I’ve paid attention to Morris Chestnut. I saw him in a few cameos here and there, but the last leading role that I REMEMBER seeing him in was Steven Seagal’s “Half Past Dead” back in 2002. I know the man never ages, as he still is the same hunky piece of chocolate that made him every girl’s dream back in the day, and doesn’t look like he’s aged a day. However, looking at his IMDB records, Morris has been keeping a steady stream of work in TV shows and midlevel thrillers for the better part of the last 15 years (ish). This is exactly where “When the Bough Breaks’ falls into the world of cinema. Midrange thrillers that just wallow in the mire of mediocrity. Never really being BAD movies, but never actually having anything fantastically wonderful about them either. “When the Bough Breaks” is your average “femme fatale” thriller where a married man gets in over his head with another woman only to find out that she’s crazier that a fruit bat and even more dangerous. It doesn’t pave any new paths, and while its’ certainly a cheesily written and sluggishly acted, isn’t exactly unentertaining either.

John (Morris Chestnut) and Laura (Regina Hall) Taylor are both successful in their respective fields. John is about to make partner in his firm and Laura is an accomplished Chef, but the two love birds have one slight hole in their life. No matter how hard they’ve tried the two are unable to conceive a child. When they go to a fertility and surrogacy agency the two choose the sweet and innocent Anna (Jaz Sinclair) to give birth to their child. Everything is all roses and sunshine with Anna becoming pregnant with John and Laura’s fertilized samples and things are looking up for the couple when Anna’s boyfriend Mike (Theo Rossi) suddenly turns on Anna and savagely attacks her. With nowhere to go, John and Laura take in the frightened girl and allow her to stay at their place until the baby is born.

However, we all saw what happens next from a mile away. Anna becomes a little bit TOO enamored with the Taylors, especially John, and soon winds her way inextricably into their lives bit by bit. Soon she’s starting to send John some naughty little videos and when John pushes back threatens to go to Laura and lie to get her to leave him. It doesn’t take very long before her naughty little antics turn vicious and there’s a whole sub plot where we find out that she’s not exactly the sweet and innocent little girl that everyone thought she was from the beginning. Soon John and Laura have to find a way to protect their baby growing within Anna and themselves at the same time. A task that proves more and more difficult the more Anna becomes unhinged with her rabid jealousy.

“When the Bough Breaks” is a rather predictable affair. Painfully predictable really. The entire plot from beginning to end is taken straight from the femme fatale playbook with the innocent seeming girl, the flirtation that tries to turn into something more and then the subsequent terror as said innocent girl terrorizes the couple. The only thing that really stood out was how honorable John was for the most part. He had a flicker of temptation and almost caved but he stood stalwart to the very end. Which is kind of strange considering how most of these movies start with the guy having a full out affair with someone and reaping the just rewards as said woman turns fruit bat crazy on him. Still, that’s not enough to save the film from being overly predictable and rather blasé in the end. Names, people, other settings are all just plot dressing and really hold no meaning except for Anna, John and Laura in their weird baby triangle.

I have to admit that the film is still put together rather well. Everything is glossy and shiny, and director Jon Cassar does a rather solid job at keeping things flowing smoothly throughout. It doesn’t FEEL as low budget and straight to video as it really is (except for the plot). Something which makes me tip my hat to his credit. There’s even a few twists and turns that keep “When the Bough Breaks” from being COMPLETELY derivative, especially dealing with Anna and Mike’s relationship near the center of the film (which is also a point of contention as Mike’s involvement is abruptly cut off and never resolved later in the film even though I full expected it to be). Morris Chestnut and Regina Hall do an admirable job with the tools and direction at their disposal, but Jaz Sinclair is the weak spot in the film. She does a great job at playing Anna really sweet and kind, but when she switches to crazy and all evil it just doesn’t ring true. Nothing wild, but still noticeable.


Rated PG-13 for violence, sexuality/partial nudity, thematic elements, some disturbing images, and language

Video :4.5stars:

Shot digitally and given a 4K DI (something which more new titles REALLY need to take advantage of considering 4K is now starting to take more and more market share digitally and physically) “When the Bough Breaks” has a VERY nice looking 2.39:1 AVC encode Blu-ray. Glossy and very clean, it sports little to no digital noise and razor sharp clarity throughout. Facial detail and the lovely house that John and Laura abide in are rendered with great amounts of little nuances and you can see ever line and curve in the furniture, as well as every pore and feature of the actor’s faces. Background detailing is well rendered and the foreground shows off a LOT of little bits of detailing. Colors are fairly neutral and the contrast levels are well balanced giving natural look flesh tones and a no discernable color grading outside of the slightly boosted reds and whites in the clothing. Black levels are deep and inky and I couldn’t see any signs of banding or crush ANYWHERE (which is rare as I usually pick up at least HINTS of the afore mentioned artifacts in most films).

Audio :4stars:

The 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is just about when you would expect for a dialog heavy drama. Lots and lots of emphasis on the front three speakers with a little bit of activity in the surrounds and LFE to round it out. Dialog is firmly locked in the center channel and well replicated throughout the film, but the surrounds do get some decent activity with the tense score and a few crashes and bangs along the way. The LFE channel is mainly relegated to the ominous sounding music and the shotgun blast at the end, but does come into play with mild use here and there throughout the fairly straight forward mix. It won’t be an all-star action track, but the 5.1 experience is satisfactory and does everything that is asked of it without question.

Extras: :2stars:

• Deleted and Extended Scenes
• "The Have's and the Have Not's, The Cast" Featurette
• Audio Commentary with Director Jon Cassar, Writer Jack Olsen, & Actress Jaz Sinclair

Overall: :3.5stars:

“When the Bough Breaks” is a fairly paint by the numbers thriller that really doesn’t leave a whole lot to the imagination. It sticks largely to the classic thriller tropes and domestic squabbles that are SUPPOSED to be steamy, but the watered down PG-13 rating doesn’t allow for anything racy or “edgy” to really be explored. Something which actually hampers the movie quite a bit. Chestnut and Hall do what they can with the script, but sadly there’s not a whole lot they can actually do when the writing keeps them severely constrained and the direction is paint by the numbers. I didn’t have a BAD time with the thriller, but it wasn’t entertaining enough for me to really get engaged and feel like we were back in the heyday of the Michael Douglass domestic thrillers of the 80s and 90s. Entertaining, but highly flawed, “When the Bough Breaks” is firmly in the “eh, I’ll Netflix it” category of rentals.

Additional Information:

Starring: Morris Chestnut, Regina Hall, Romany Malco
Directed by: Jon Cassar
Written by: Jack Olsen
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, Thai, Russian DD 5.1
Studio: Sony
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 107 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: December 27th, 2016

Buy When the Bough Breaks on Blu-ray at Amazon

Recommendation: Rental

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