Friday, August 26, 2016

Movie Review: DON'T BREATHE

Three young tech savvy friends, Money, his girlfriend Rocky and their tag along Alex, like to break into rich people’s houses to steal valuables which they then sell to a black market dealer. When Money complains to the dealer that they aren’t getting paid enough for the risks, the dealer tells him about a blinded war veteran who received a $300,000 pay off settlement from the parents of the drunken teenaged girl who hit and killed the man’s daughter. The dealer tells Money that the guy has never spent a dime of it. That he keeps it hidden away in his house that sits in a rundown neighborhood filled with abandoned houses.

Rocky and Money want to get out of Detroit and move to California to escape bad family situations. Rocky wants to take her younger sister with them so it isn’t hard for Money to convince her that breaking into the house of a blind old man to steal $300,000 is a piece of cake. It’s Alex, who is the main component to these crime sprees because he is the one with access to the alarm codes and keys to the houses they rob because of his dad’s home security business, that balks at breaking in to steal money. So far they have only stolen valuables, this would be a whole new risk for them. However, Alex is smitten with Rocky so he eventually joins in to help her. Secure in their youthful conceit that robbing an older, blind man of his money is going to be the easiest heist of them all, they set off armed with drugged meat to feed his guard dog and a remote to the security system to break into his house.

None of them have a clue, until it’s far too late, that they have picked the wrong house to rob. What they thought, especially the overly arrogant Money, would be a helpless, easy to subdue victim turns out to be a dangerous predator guarding more than just a large stash of cash.

Don’t Breathe is written by Fede Alvarez and Rodo Sayagues, with Alvarez also taking on directing duties for the movie which, while it is supposed to take place in Detroit, was actually filmed in Hungary. For Don’t Breathe, Fede Alvarez wanted to move away from the supernatural element and instead take on the home invasion genre that has more simplicity in its close quarter, sometimes claustrophobic atmosphere. The three would be robbers, Money (Daniel Zovatto), Rocky (Jane Levy) and Alex (Dylan Minnette) are pretty much the basic cliché character for this type of movie. Money is boorish and crude, Rocky is just trying to find a way to better her and her younger sister’s life and Alex is the lovelorn tag along who would do anything for Rocky. While Daniel Zovatto and Jane Levy are rock solid in their roles and make their characters believable, Dylan Minnette is the weak link that often seems to lose his place as far as what emotions to show to make Alex more believable.

It really doesn’t matter though if these three characters are cliché or not because Don’t Breathe has enough intense action and downright surprising twists to more than keep the audience on the edge of their seat. Alvarez and Sayagues present a taut and intelligently written story that crackles with energy. The camera work and visual effects are stunning and add to the power of the story. The final element that makes this movie stand heads above the usual home invasion fare is the casting of Stephen Lang as the blind man. This is no helpless shuffling along old blind man. He has a physique of a combat ready soldier and the killing skills to match. Stephen Lang is a master of body language and quickness that takes your breath away. He imbues the blind man with a raw, animal strength.

Speaking of animal strength, whatever you do, don’t lose track of the guard dog that makes Cujo look like a friendly puppy.

All in all, Don’t Breathe is a great movie. Don’t go see it alone though, take someone with you to share the thrill ride that is Don’t Breathe!

Marla’s Score: 9/10

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