"It's kind of messed up to rob a blind guy, isn't it?" - Alex
Three desperate people, Rocky, Alex, and Money are keen to get out of the crumbling Detroit slums for the apparent greener pastures of California. Rocky wants to give her little sister a better life than she has in the dysfunctional Rob Zombie like current family hood. They think they have lucked onto the perfect target, blind Vet with zero in the way of neighbours and a healthy amount of cash due to a legal win.
Naturally our three amigos launch their home invasion and naturally it all goes pear shaped faster than you can say "blind Vet has some moves". More worrying for our would be desperadoes is the fact that the old blind guy has some secrets hidden in the basement. This movie turns the home invasion trope on its head, ready to check out the decaying manse that dripped blood?
So Fede Alvarez did alright with the Evil Dead remake ergo I was dead keen on catching his next feature, which I unfortunately missed at the cinema, I am one bad Reviewer folks, I promise to make amends this year or maybe next year. Anyways the disc was duly released and I was onto it like white on rice, and having now seen the movie twice I am here to say Alvarez knows what he is doing, can channel Hitchcock like a wild thing, and kept me pinned to the sofa like a deer caught in car headlights. I was black and blue by the time I got to the final credits of this bad boy, Alvarez isn't holding back and came at me with both barrels primed.
I guess what is going to catch most people out with Don't Breathe is that there really isn't anyone to root for, in the Yank sense, no one is exactly above reproach here, which makes for interesting viewing. Rocky wants to get her sister out of the current situation they are enduring, noble in itself, but to do so is quite happy to break into people's homes. Alex at least has some scruples about ripping off a blind dude, which he drops pretty quickly as he has a thing for Rocky. Money simply doesn't care; he views it all as easy money. On the other side of the robbery gone sore our supposed victim is not exactly living the Christian life style. Guess who dies first?
Having said all that I was having a good time with this movie mainly due to Alvarez's above average directing style and the very solid performances being delivered by a small cast. Alvarez has this Hitchcockian thing going down where he focuses on something and you know it is going to prove pivotal later in the movie; suspense is being rung out people. Okay a couple of items he seemingly forgot about, but after a second viewing I'm left wondering if he did that on purpose to keep the audience on their toes. I particularly liked Alvarez's dedication to keeping it tight and taunt, even the outdoor scenes didn't overly lend themselves to landscape pictorials.
Alvarez, now an Evil Dead alumni, has his horror tactics working like a one arm painter. Besides the Blind Dude, who shows zero in the way of compassion, there's this honking big dog going Cujo at various stages. Particularly liked one scene where Rocky thought herself home and hosed, with money in tow, only to have the doubtful pleasantries of this particular petting zoo suddenly appear in the form of our K9 lead for the evening. I would be emulating an Olympic sprinter if I had that doggie zeroing in on me as well. So yeah Alvarez has your horror requirements covered if you are dude, however the ladies may just not be so onboard the love boat here with one scene being in your "maybe that was going too far" category of cinema zones. Hold onto your ponies kids I'm taking the infamous turkey baster scene here, if you have seen the movie you'll know exactly what I'm talking about, if you haven't, well let's just say Don't Breathe might not be the best choice for a date movie ever made.
Atmosphere is superb in the old dark house that has a few secrets going down. I was actually quite impressed with Alvarez's decision to inhabit the manse with a blind dude, kind of goes against all the horror conventions you may have noted previously, horror is after all an equal opportunity franchise, characters with disabilities get don't get off any easier than their fully able companions. Okay so we have a house that could be the scene for a haunting or exorcism and one crazy arsed dude with more than a chip in his shoulder, Alvarez uses these elements to the best of his abilities to keep the audience hoping. In a number of scenes members of our home invasion team are looking at each other and trying to not make a sound as blind dude waits poised to pounce on the least whisper of movement or indeed breathing. It makes for some tense atmosphere with the house permanently in a state of dusk. You can cut this atmosphere with a knife and serve it steaming to friends and family as far as I'm concerned.
Where Don't Breathe is working for me is you can't keep a good home invader down, but nothing comes out of left field. A certain character survives an attack due to the blindness of his opponent, it might sound like a Glenn crawling under a bin moment but makes perfect sense in terms of the movie. Expect the unexpected Kids, Alvarez is constantly taking the movie to the brink, and then serving up a twist at the ultimate moment, once again exhibit A the turkey baster scene.
I did have a couple of problems with Don't Breathe, but we're talking minor itches rather than being taken out of the movie. In one scene the Blind Dude is burying something in his basement, and pulls up what appears to be a large tile? Anyways he deposits his cargo down below in some black looking gloop that I guess he got at a bargain basement price from the set of Prometheus. And then he pops the tile back in place. Now given the tile isn't exactly of a weight bearing natural how exactly aren't people crashing through the floor left, right, and centre. That folks would be nit picking, but any home renovater is going to have the same question, where do I get this miracle product from? Okay not going to bother with my other gripe as it's really minor and doesn't affect the overall quality of what we are viewing.
Acting wise we get a pretty good cast doing their business in workman like fashion with no one really laying down anything that the Academy may take note of. Very solid performance from everyone on screen with no notable stand outs.
Going to pull the pin right here right now folks as am starting to get a hankering to ramble a bit too much. Don't turn a blind eye to Don't Breathe, this movie is one of the better home invasion flicks you are going to get a chance to catch, comes highly recommended. In a year with more than a truck ton of quality horror releases Don't Breathe deserves some loving, latch on to it today kids.