What I'm Watching: Don't Breathe
Well, this review is gonna be pretty pointless. By now, pretty much everyone has seen this movie except me, and everyone has said things about it. But that's never stopped me before.
Don't Breathe is the latest from Fede Alvarez, who also directed the Evil Dead remake, and I praised that movie when it came out. He brings over from that movie Jane Levy, who is almost unrecognisable, and playing a completely different character, and getting to stretch her acting muscles.
The plot revolves around Rocky and her two friends Alex and Money, who have a little hobby of breaking into homes and stealing shit. They have their reasons and their justifications, but more on that later. Their latest score is to break into the house of a blind veteran, when they hear he has a huge inheritance lurking in his house somewhere. The risk is high, the reward is higher, and how bad can it be? He's *blind*!
Well, let me tell you, if it was easy, there wouldn't be much of a movie. Things quickly go wrong, he doesn't get knocked out by the gas they hit him with while he's sleeping, and we head into a little bit of Home Alone by way of Daredevil. Well, not really. There's no real creative traps, but these three kids stuck in a house trying to survive is close enough.
This movie is great. I love almost everything about it. I said before how much Alvarez has a great eye for detail, and a style all his own, and that continues here. The directing is top notch. The look, the feel, the angles. Everything is meticulously thought out, and while I'm not a fan of the extreme zooms on certain items to show you how important they will be, at the same time, I appreciate properly setting things up, and since this is a location we will spend almost the entire movie in, it's a good idea to showcase it and establish the geography. It's just a *hair* on the nose. The location should become one of the classic horror lairs.
The acting is top notch across the board. There are no good guys here, or bad guys. Everyone has shades of grey and exist in this moral ambiguity. It's sometimes rough to know who to root for, and the movie clearly comes down, towards the end, on the side of the thieves, you absolutely get why some guy is defending his home! The Blind Man eventually takes a turn though, that pushes his character over the edge, making it impossible to root for him. You even feel for the kids, who are doing this to try and better their lives, and I only wish we had gotten more time with them to see why they're trying to escape, and why they do what they do. It's there, but it feels too quick. I just wanted a little more to help me get behind these kids robbing a blind guy.
They make great use of light and sound, as you would expect from a movie like this. The music is haunting and creepy as well. And naturally, since he's blind, we get a scene where Lang's character plunges the basement into darkness. And the scene goes beyond desaturated. It's beyond black and white. There's a dull flatness to it, and might be the best representation of total darkness, while still conveying what's going on. This scene is going to become iconic. It's so well shot, so tense, and the flashes of light and colour returning every time a shot is fired are spot on perfect.
Naturally, there's more to the story than just a home invasion, and there's more to the Blind Man as I've hinted at, but I won't spoil things.
I absolutely love this movie, and it's one of my favourite thrillers of 2016, from start to finish. Even the ending didn't ruin it, as so many do. The characters are smart, they don't do anything that made me shout COME ON! and felt like they did everything right, everything they could, to survive once the shit hit the fan.
If you haven't seen this yet, it gets my highest recommendation.