When The Bough Breaks

There's a line towards the end of When The Bough Breaks where Regina Hall's Laura Taylor turns to her husband John Taylor, played by Morris Chestnut, and asks "Why didn't you say anything?" This is a question that you'll have been screaming at the screen for the best part of an hour with a frustrating fury. But finally registering this enormous issue doesn't even allow When The Bough Breaks to turn the corner into competency, let alone captivation.

Instead, it continues along almost completely unaware of how ludicrous and wholly unsatisfying it is. In fact, from there on out, it just gets more and more absurd in an attempt to rile up the plot and film in its final act. But like the rest of When The Bough Breaks this cajoling is yet another abject failure.

The plot is simply enough. John and Laura Taylor are a young, successful, professional couple employed as a lawyer and chef, respectively, that have a happy marriage. Unfortunately they are unable to conceive their own child, though. Out of options they decided to hire barely out of her teens Anna (Jaz Sinclair) as their surrogate. But once she's becomes pregnant with Mike and Laura's baby, her boyfriend Mike (Theo Rossi) starts to become more and more conniving, while Anna develops a dark and twisted fixation on John that threatens the safety of the child.

As you can imagine, things soon spiral out of control but by the time that they do just that you'll have long grown bored on their shenanigans. When The Bough Breaks starts out a leisurely pace, patiently introducing us to the extravagant luxurious life of John and Laure, whose mansion and life you can't help but be impressed by.

Unfortunately, you're not watching the thriller for real estate tips. Instead, you're watching it to be thrilled, and that never comes close to actually happening as When The Bough Breaks is full of half-baked ideas, plot twists and cliché that you've seen dozens upon dozens of times before. That might be forgivable if they were presented in a tight, shocking and energetic fashion, but When The Bough Breaks drags out its plot in a long-winded, lethargic manner that's akin to listening to your amnesic grandfather tell a story about a penny. This only highlights just how flimsy a plot it possesses and why you never come close to taking it seriously.

But the one overwhelming problem with When The Bough Breaks is how monumentally stupid John acts as Anna's obsession with him becomes more sexual and problematic. It begets belief that John doesn't just speak to Laura about the growing problem, especially since he's employed as a lawyer and should have had the foresight to see this was going to grow into a problem. In fact, because of his inaction, you can't help but conclude that he deserves everything that comes his way.

Even the talented ensemble of Morris Chestnut, Regina Hall, Jaz Sinclair, and a criminally wasted Michael K. Williams seem to recognize that they're involved in a stinker, as their performances lack the fire that you've come to associate with each of them. You can sense the actors pining for forgiveness for their involvement in such an utter shambles. It's not just them, though. When The Bough Breaks' atrocious dialogue, which fails to inject suspense or intrigue, is accompanied by lackluster direction by Jon Cassar that doesn't come close to building it into anything even remotely substantial, too.

All of which means that When The Bough Breaks is fraught with tedium rather than tension and is so outrageously unsatisfying that everyone involved should be both thoroughly embarrassed and ashamed.

Gregory Wakeman