Review: "Don't Breathe" (2016)
I finally got around to watching this; a movie that I really wanted to see in theaters. This is a thing that I don't do anywhere near as much now that I don't work at AMC anymore. God, I miss those free movie days, but I digress.
I'd read a few of the reviews of this movie, but I tend to go with my first impression. The trailer reminded me of the classic "Wait Until Dark" starring Alan Arkin and Audrey Hepburn. The blind are a touchy subject for some, but they are ripe fodder for a horror/thriller film. There's so much that you just can't know or understand about being blind. The reliance on other senses makes for a scary prospect, which director Fede Alvarez (Evil Dead) plays to the hilt.
Make no mistake about it- this is one seriously tense movie. It's quiet. It's dark. It's stealthy. The setting of the house and its rundown Detroit neighborhood are ugly and almost challenge you to look a little closer, because the devil is in the details.
The plot centers around Rocky (Jane Levy, reteaming with Alvarez from "Evil Dead"), Alex (Dylan Minnette, "Lost"), and Money (Daniel Zovatto, "It Follows"). Rocky and Money are a couple of Detroit hoods from shitty circumstances while Alex is the more well-to-do son of a security officer with the proverbial keys to the kingdom. This trio of burglars' next score is the home of a blinded Gulf War veteran who won a six-figure settlement and has the money locked up inside his home in an otherwise abandoned neighborhood. Sounds like an easy score, right?
The Blind Man (literal character name in the credits) is played to perfection by Stephen Lang ("Avatar", "Tombstone"). He's equal parts vulnerable blind man and badass, Jedi-style motherfucker. As Gracie said when he first showed up on-screen: "Ripped, blind old dudes are scary as hell!"
I love the arrogance of Money. His (pun intended) blind assurance that the old man would be easy to handle is a bit of well-worn trope, but it is also well executed. If there is one thing you can say for Fede Alvarez he definitely knows how to build tension with the extremes of silence, shock, and foreshadowing dialogue. He paid attention in Hitchcock 101. Money gives you the movies key line while sitting in the car outside of the house: "Just because he's blind doesn't mean he's a saint." Boy, oh boy...........that's when the first smile hit my lips.
This one doesn't go where you think it's going to go. Good suspense should have a twist, and this one definitely does. I stop there with the details because there are movies that you go into with all the cards up and then there are movies where you want to know as little as possible. This one is the latter.
Make sure the lights are off and the distractions are removed. You want to be able to bathe in the atmosphere of this one properly. It's not a perfect film- there are plot holes (namely the assumption that the money is in his house and not his bank just because he's an eccentric war vet). However, I can get past that even in a straight thriller. Suspending your disbelief is part of the joy of the experience of a good movie, and this one has some horror elements to go with the straight thriller style.
This one is, ultimately, a film of overall dislikable people doing a shitty and criminal thing to a helpless man who is nowhere near as helpless (or as innocent) as he seems to be. They deliver on the premise in spades. I'm going to give this one a solid 7.5 out of 10. It's worth your consideration and a glass or two of quality Scotch.