Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Movie Review- Don't Breathe

Stephen Lang has all the exits covered in, Don't Breathe

"God? There is no god."

For anyone over the age of twenty-eight or so, I think it's safe to say that we don't see anything special with today's scary movies. It's all been done already. Cheap scares and shocking sound effects worked in the 70's and 80's, but now they are as predictable as they are overused. Even the torture porn (Hostel, Saw) trend has run its course. Nowadays, it's all about demonic possessions and remakes of the classic horror films. What bothers me more than the fact that they keep making the same stuff over and over again, it's that people keep going out to see these soulless regurgitations, and in turn are encouraging the studios to continue making them. The answer is simple; The majority of those moviegoers are in their early years and don't know any better. Cause if they did, they wouldn't patronize this crap. However, there are some filmmakers out their that aren't looking for the easy buck, and genuinely love making good horror movies. Fede Alvarez is one of them. His version of The Evil Dead (2013) spin off/remake/sequel/whatever was clever, and honored the original. In his latest film, he honors a few other horror/thriller classics and makes it stand on its own as well.

Don't Breathe

Don't Breathe is what scary movies are all about; Making you feel uneasy while entertaining you at the same time. Alvarez seems to know what's been done wrong lately, and decides to go against it. Excessive gore? Not really. A deafening, screeching sound effect when someone turns around or opens a door? Uh-uh. A hissing cat quickly jumps into frame? Definitely not. Instead, Alvarez uses the Italian horror approach which consists of suspenseful stalking and low musical tones. Sometimes less is so much more effective. His manipulations of his characters that are the prey, filters directly into the audience as well. Every time that the score would instantly disappear and the characters started breathing as lightly as humanly possible, I found myself doing the same thing. That's how you pull an audience into your film; Not by cheap bullshit, but by making the audience feel what the actors are feeling. The story is incredibly simple and the actors don't have a lot of revelatory dialogue, but the survival horror is what sells this bad boy. Even though the blind guy stalker is unique to the genre, the overall theme to Don't Breathe is from Panic Room (2002) and and how eerily similar it is to The People Under the Stairs (1991). The camera work is very attractive, especially when it's used to foreshadow weapons and locations that will be used later on in the picture.

The particularly small cast is limited to four people with speaking parts, and a handful of background pop ups. Jane Levy (Evil Dead 2013) as the main protagonist, is nice to see as a girl who's not a push over, and gives as good as she gets. She's a survivor, and heaven help anyone who threatens her freedom. Daniel Zovatto (Fear the Walking Dead) as her thug boyfriend with cornrows on his head and a gangsta persona, looks like a blatant rip off of Jared Leto's (Suicide Squad) character from Panic Room. Dylan Minnette (Goosebumps 2015) as the stereotypical nerd boy with a crush, is believable as the story explains him, but his character is so different from his accomplices, that it's hard to buy that he would be in on the actual robberies themselves. The Man in the Dark (original title) is played excellently by Stephen Lang (Avatar). He never says more than what's needed, and his creep factor grows with every minute. What's even scarier about his role, is that his motivations make a sick kind of sense that goes way too far over the line. There are more than a few moments where I found myself groaning in pure scary movie joy. And that's what it's all about.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, of Don't Breathe

The Good- The up close and personal face blast, the very uncomfortable turkey baster scene, and the Cujo homage dog chase.

The Bad- Mostly predictable, the trailers give a little too much away, a couple of chances for a killing blow that never happens, and all that camera panning through the entire house with no hint of a personal gym (Lang is very muscular, can't just be from push ups).

The Ugly- Even though the ending is a decent balance between winning and losing, I can't help but wonder if it didn't set up the ground work for a lame sequel; "Don't Breathe 2: California Screamin".

Final Thoughts

Don't Breathe is a refreshing addition to the horror genre. It's also a testament to proving that with a low budget ($9.9 mil.) and a talented writer/director, that you can still get entertaining fare that isn't over-bloated and lifeless. It's the perfect season to go and see this movie. So go, now. Inhalers are optional.
Rating- 7.5 out of 10

Don't Breathe (2016)

R | 1h 28min | Horror, Thriller | 26 August 2016 (USA)

Hoping to walk away with a massive fortune, a trio of thieves break into the house of a blind man who isn't as helpless as he seems.

Director: Fede Alvarez
Writers: Fede Alvarez, Rodo Sayagues

Stars: Stephen Lang, Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette 


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