Friday, December 16, 2016

Film Review: Don't Breathe (2016)

Don't Breathe (Review)
United States/2016
Format Viewed For Review: FandangoNow
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"Don't Breathe is a good movie – especially if you don't think about it much."

A group of thieves break into a blind man's house in hopes of stealing his fortune, but they quickly discover the man's sinister secrets...

Don't Breathe is a film with an interesting concept and flawed execution. The plot follows a group of thieves: Rocky (Jane Levy), a young woman who really wants to escape to California with her daughter, Alex (Dylan Minnette), a young man who is 'friendzoned' by Rocky, and Money, Rocky's boyfriend. The pair find out that a blind war veteran (Stephen Lang) who lives in the abandoned side of town has over $300,000 in his home – he's never heard of a bank – so they decide to burglarize him. Unfortunately, while doing so, they discover this man is very skilled and very violent. They soon find themselves trapped in the house and forced to fight for survival – all while discovering more of the blind man's secrets. Like I said, it's a very simple film. A lot of other 'critics' praised it for stuff like it's 'unbelievable' twists, but, if you've watched a lot of films, this is will come off as a by-the-books horror-thriller. The ending was underwhelming, too.

The biggest issue with Don't Breathe is its characters – and from that, it branches off into more problems. First and foremost, they're generic caricatures with little personality, so you don't really have anyone to root for. Secondly, they're not likable – at all. Yes, I know, there are bad people out there. However, you can make bad people likable through deep character – this doesn't have that. The characters are basically a set of selfish, annoying, and stupid thieves with butterfingers. So, that leads to my next point: this film is contrived. I mean, everything in this film arises so unnaturally, it comes off as poorly written. The writers didn't make any effort to cover their plot contrivances, which leads to a lot of eye rolling. You'll be screaming at the characters to do the smart thing, but they won't.

Fortunately, Don't Breathe is a well-directed film. So, thanks to its interesting concept, the film is able to stand for its short ~80-minute runtime. Hell, it's not even standing, it's actually sprinting. Alvarez's direction is fierce. The film is suspenseful and atmospheric, creating a sense of dread from beginning to end. Sure, the suspense is often unnatural due to its plot contrivances, but it still works. There are some dark scenes that also push the boundaries, so I have to applaud it for that. If it weren't for its contrived writing and poor characters, which could have easily been fixed, this would have been a masterpiece. Unfortunately, it will have to settle for a good time-killing horror/thriller. At least it's not horrible, right?

The performances were good, at least. Jane Levy's performance consists of her holding her hand over her mouth and opening her eyes as wide as possible – she does that well. Dylan Minnette also plays the friendzoned idiot well, too. Stephen Lang came off as natural. His actions are wicked, but, thanks to Lang's performance, you can't help but sympathize. The film was shot very well. I really liked the engaging camerawork. The film was written by Fede Alvarez and Rodo Sayagues; Alvarez also directs. Although I loved the concept, Old Daredevil versus a band of thieves, I felt like the writing was flawed. The characters could have used more depth, the lazy plot contrivances could have been ironed out, the plot holes could have been avoided, and the ending could have been more effective. It didn't feel like there was much effort put into the writing. The direction, on the other hand, is great. Alvarez knows how to craft suspense and atmosphere. Instead of relying solely on jump-scares, he creates an effective experience through tension and dread.

Overall, Don't Breathe is a good movie – especially if you don't think about it much. It is a suspenseful, unnerving, and often surprising horror/thriller. The movie, however, is held back by its poor writing. It's not a bad time-killer, though. I'd equate this with your typical Hollywood blockbuster. It's good if you're just trying to kill some time while eating some popcorn. Worth a rental.

Score: 6/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood.

No comments:

Post a Comment