May 9, 2017

A Brief Review of Don't Breathe

Don't Breathe (2016)I recently watched Don't Breathe (2016) and liked it very much in spite of some plot holes and a weak ending. I think it is a good example of a film that is likely to be more effective the less one knows about it going in. That being the case, I'll provide only a broad outline here with no spoilers so you can decide whether it sounds like the sort of thing you might enjoy.

The film opens with a trio of teenagers robbing a house. We quickly learn that one of them has a father who owns a security company and that his son has been stealing alarm codes and keys to facilitate their burglaries. We don't get much more backstory than that, although we learn just enough about one of them to feel some sympathy for her. The haul from this job is disappointing, but a new tip comes up about one that promises to be much more lucrative.

The trio learns of a disabled veteran who received a large sum of money in a legal or insurance settlement. They have reason to believe that he may be storing the money at home. Fortunately for them, his home happens to be the only inhabited house in a largely abandoned and neglected neighborhood. While casing the area, they see the vet and discover that he's blind. With some reluctance over the morality of robbing a blind veteran, they decide to go ahead with the burglary.

This is the point where I'm reluctant to give much more away other than to say that things go horribly wrong in every imaginable way and in at least one major way you probably won't see coming. I'd classify Don't Breathe as being as much a thriller as a horror film, but that was not a bad thing. It brought new meaning to "edge of your seat," as I became aware of sitting rigidly upright on the edge of my seat a few times. There is one near perfect moment in the film where our trio of teens runs into something unexpected that instantly shifts things into more of a horror direction, and this was the point where I heard "No fucking way!" come out of my mouth. The horror elements became clearer, and things accelerated quickly before the film concluded with what I considered an unnecessarily drawn-out ending.

Complaints about the ending aside, I enjoyed Don't Breathe. I think this had to do with how little I knew about it going in, some extremely effective and tense scenes instead of the usual jump-scare crap, and the thrill ride pace that just keeps ramping up. I also appreciated how the filmmakers set things up so that it took awhile to figure out who one should be rooting for. That would become clear, but it was initially a bit murky, and I liked that aspect of it. Don't Breathe was not perfect by any means, but it kept me entertained. I would definitely see it again, and I suspect that thriller-horror fans looking for something different and who prefer to skip the supernatural elements might like it.

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