Monday, October 31, 2016

Don't Breathe (Brockway)

Don't Breathe

Three spoiled friends, Money (Daniel Zavatto), Alex (Dylan Minnette), and Rocky (Jane Levy) have a sure fire way to burglarize a house in desperate Detroit. A blind recluse (Stephen Lang) lives alone and is sitting on thirty thousand dollars. After all, what can go wrong?

You will find out in Fede Alvarez's "Don't Breathe," a horror film that plays with the audience using effective scares, magnetic suspense and the logic of dreams. One is put on edge right away. An aerial shot of a leafy green neighborhood suddenly narrows into the sinister as an old man is dragging a limp woman on the pavement. Suffice to say things are muy mal on Buena Vista Street.

The film starts with the uncomfortable premise that the house is to be feared, as the blind man is turned into a kind of superhuman monster, borrowing a bit from John Carpenter's original "Halloween." These amoral youngsters try to reason with the taciturn and seemingly weak man only to realize to their horror that he is very strong, his senses are intensified and he is not letting them go.

While one can well argue that this is another chase-in-the-attic or haunted house film, the suspense never panders and the tension is far from anemic. Locked doors, shaking keys and breath itself have never been more nerve-wracking. While some might find the "surprise" at the end a bit too Gothic and outrageous, the real mystery of "Don't Breathe" is in the character of the blind hermit himself and the film definitely teases our assumptions.

No matter what one might think, the stranger has a resolve that just won't quit. The film's deadpan "what if" ending satisfyingly brings to mind the eerie "It Follows" (also set in Detroit) and the legendary Wes Craven.

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