December 5, 2016

Don't Breathe

Fede Alvarez, 2016
Don't Breathe has the problems that so many of the horror thrillers have that are churned out these days. Starting off with an unrealistic grouping of people. You have beautiful girl Rocky (Jane Levy) who is supposed to be trailer trash but doesn't look like the product of any trailer park anyone's ever seen before. You have straight clean cut Alex (Dylan Minnette) who it just so happens that his father works at the alarm company so he has the master key to every customers house they rob. Then you have dirtbag kid Money (Daniel Zovatto) with the vulgar mouth who is the romantic interest of the trailer girl. The chemistry on screen matches the believability of the couple. Zovatto was really great in last year's It Follows, but is awfully miscast here. Certainly not his fault. The Money character is just downright annoying and one dimensional.

For a while they are burglarizing homes and staying under a $10K theshold - so that if they get caught they can't be charged with grand larceny. Then they hear about a house owned by a blind man that is rumored to have $300,000 in cash. This money was obtained through a settlement after his daughter was killed in a car accident. They look at this job as their big opportunity, the one that they have been waiting for. The last job. With this money Rocky and Money can go to California together. it's their ticket out of Detroit.

So they descend upon the house. But I had forgotten to mention that the blind man is a decorated army vet. But of course the trio doesn't care. It's not like being in the Army prepares you for any type of combat situation; oh WAIT that's exactly what it does. Oh yeah, and when you are blind all of your other senses are heightened. To the films credit, some of the moments inside the house are tense. Reminiscent of Hitchcock's work. The concept of burglarizing a blind man's home and him putting up a fight is actually quite original and intriguing. Alvarez should get some credit for good direction but some criticism for such a weak script. First off, you are supposed to believe that the only reason Alex is really helping them is because he has a crush on Rocky. Otherwise, there is no single reason he would get involved. He's a normal middle class kid who would have no reason to get mixed up with the other two. This makes Alex less greedy than them, and when things start to turn south he bails on the blind man's house. But he hears gunshots and comes back. How many times are we going to let the hero return to the house in horror movies? It's not much different than running up the stairs. Oh yeah, that happens here too. If you were in a blind man's house and you were trying to disorient him to escape, instead of running couldn't you just throw things all around and confuse him? What also needs to be mentioned is this house is located in a completely abandoned section of Detroit which conveniently creates a situation where there is no police presence. So this takes care of that constant gun shots being fired problem that might draw attention.

Don't Breathe is a disappointment. Last year's It Follows taught us that some creative horror films can come out of nowhere where new things can be done. After seeing all of the positive reviews related to this film I thought this could have been this years It Follows. Boy was I mistaken.

There is a reveal about 3/4 of the way through the film that I have to acknowledge. But this is borderline spoiler material so read on at your own risk.

They find a woman chained in the basement. She is the woman who killed the man's daughter years before. She holds up a newspaper clipping of the accident to Rocky and Alex. But this is just so unbelievable. If this woman ever went missing, wouldn't this man be the first person that they would look at ? Of course it would, he would have a motive for revenge!

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