Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Don't Breathe


Rocky (Jane Levy), Alex (Dylan Minnette), and Money (Daniel Zovatto) are small time crooks preying on homes. Money is slow considering their level of expertise, until one day, the mark of a lifetime comes into their attention with a potential windfall of $300,000 in cash.

The owner is blind and there are no neighbors for blocks away. At its face value a home run but then we won’t have a movie if it were so.

I watched Don’t Breathe with a friend who’s sceptical of the thriller and horror genre hence his possible influence with this review. More than once he rants that the lead characters should have walked away or ran at full speed and never looking back. The Americans have this tendency, he said, to make the characters of the genre almost lay and wait to be killed. 

Come to think of it why do walking zombies catch a running prey? Running zombies make more sense but I digress.

In Don’t Breathe Rocky, Alex, and Money had potential reasons to back off along the way or run away immediately at the face of lethal danger. How you receive this movie depends how much you buy into the character’s motive.

First off what made them go for this once in a lifetime mark?

Alex is literally the keys thereby the brains of the trio. He secretly makes use of his father’s employment in a home security firm, using keys that are already in the company’s care. It was his idea to steal below the radar, not going up a certain amount, lest the police get any ideas and motivation to investigate a security firm. So the first question is why did he have to say yes?

Rocky, the cute girl in spite of a boxer’s name, is the prime mover. She’s desperate for money. Somehow the cute girl always gets to override the brains which I suppose can be true. Looking at it that way yes I bought it.

Maybe I doubt now in hindsight, as I write this review, but with movie just starting, their target so tempting, who wouldn’t rob the blind man (Stephen Lang)? What could have improved is highlighting Alex’s motivation for not following his often good sense. He’s in love but being undersold in the story, Alex looked pitifully a pushover after all is said in done.

First time I had a look on Jane Levy, and I'm liking her. And, I am impressed how Dylan Minnette performed in 13 Reason Why. It would be nice if I had something of the two that doesn't involve running for dear life.

I was not as bothered with the second issue, the chase, as my friend was – actually I was bothered because he so loudly pointed it out. There are uses of jump scares that worked. It’s just creepy that a blind man can get way ahead of you. You can switch over the blind man for a slasher like Jason Voorhees; always chasing his prey, appearing suddenly; it works.

But when you think it’s a blind man and not a supernatural killer then at some point it gets old. Not every scene is pitched black. You would think a man with eyes in a lighted environment has the advantage even when its just running away? It was one of those situations where the zombie gets its prey kind of deal when there were lighted scenes. 

To compensate for this the makers of Don’t Breathe shifted character motivations. The motive for being trapped in the house has changed other than being lost in the maze of darkness. Money trumped over survival and then changed again.

I can buy that, because at some point the mystery of the blind man’s secrets trumped over the excitement of the escape.

What really aroused my disbelief is the inhuman ability not to shout out of fear and surprise. Never mind the sometimes stupid chases but the shouting is the most natural element of the genre.

Rocky, Alex, and Money are not hardened criminals or killers. Yet in every single death, especially the first one – because it is their first one, none of them, not once, shouted in surprise nor whimpered in fear. Conveniently they all just had the steely resolve, despite surprise and stress seeing their numbers go down one at a time, to control all unnecessary noises.

Think about it. No experience with death, someone should have been begging for their lives more than once during the course of the movie, or whimpering at being the last – like an ‘oh God, oh God, they’re all dead’.

With Alex and Rocky going dead silent, the blind man unable to immediately make a count of how many intruders he has in his home was kept as a twist in the chase. Since this was so, then there shouldn’t be another side to the blind man – as a predator – if he wasn’t even half of Daredevil’s blind mastery which was what I was expecting for this thriller.

The blind man seemed normal considering hence the feeling that the movie is being prolonged unnecessarily. And what’s with the alarm making him go crazy? Didn’t he test the thing when he had them installed?

Outside of the never screaming part, Don’t Breathe is a decent thrill of a movie. Could have been better still if it had toned down the psycho slasher vibe just a bit and made it a more human, robbery gone wrong story – a girl desperate for money; a man desperate for love; and an easy prey that turned out to be not.


Most important I think is choosing who you watch or the movies you watch with certain persons wisely. It’s not that my friend was wrong but I wanted to enjoy the ride first – which is harder and harder to do as I watch more and more movies – and then pick the movie apart.