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Don’t Breathe (2016)

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Panic In Detroit

A weird mix of Alone In The Dark, The Bling Ring and a Natascha Kampusch biopic, Don’t Breathe is considered good because ir is, for his perilous high concept, far less worse than most other flicks in the “home invasion” sub-genre. Still, it is far from great. Starting on an opening plan reminiscent of Dawn Of The Dead (remade) and of course The Shining, the movie swiftly exposes said high concept as follows:

A thoroughly unprepared suicide squad of burglars conceive the brilliant project to rob a blind guy who just got a lot of money in court, said their unreliable snitch, since another one of their botched jobs just went down the drain. Please meet Alex (Dylan Minette, distractedly handsome and not a great actor for drama) and Rocky (Jane Levy, looking a bit like Reese Witherspoon used to, and quite good in spite of her “I promise you California” dialogue). Only option left is therefore to go for the blind man (Stephen Lang), but there’s a catch: he’s an army veteran with a shady past. Blissfully obvious of that fact, our sexy losers enter the house and to say that they are not welcome would be gilding the lily.

Fede Alvarez (previously: the Evil Dead remake) has a flair for suspense and a good eye for fluidity, as demonstrated in a CGI-enhanced Argento moment from the the ground floor of the house to under the landlord’s bed. He pulls off some good scenes along the way, like the intrusion of an attack dog in an airduct, ot the way poor Rocky’s bashing is filmed in a single, distant large frame. The villain’s “I’m not a rapist!” scene is good too, and surprisingly bitter in such a context; and as far as movie quotes go, his three minute remake of Cujo is perfectly decent.

On the other hand, he’s in a bit of a pickle remembering his villain’s infirmity. Yes, he’s blind most of the time, but on convenient occasions he’s also deaf, not to mention mute. He’s far from paralytic at least, as he repeatedly captures the heroes, only to let them escape a few minutes later. Uncomfortably good at its most claustrophobic moments, Don’t Breathe requires its heroes not to move or react in any way, a bit like Alvarez imagine his subjugated audience.

Yet, it is hard not to giggle at times. The movie proudly displays what must be the most unsafe safe ever filmed, and the plot twist in the basement will require all suspension of disbelief you are able to muster. Advice to revenge kidnappers everywhere: in case you intend to impregnate your basement protégée, always keep a jar of your semen at hand, even if she’s already two months pregnant. Who knows, other opportunities may occur… Sequel unavoidable.

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