Thursday, October 27, 2016

Don't Breathe (Rhoades)

Front Row at the Movies

“Don’t Breathe” In the Dark
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

Are you old enough to remember that 1967 Audrey Hepburn thriller, “Wait Until Dark?” In it, she’s a blind woman being terrorized by a trio of home invaders, until she turns out the lights putting everyone on equal footing. Made shivers go up your spine.

Now we have “Don’t Breathe,” a new film starring Stephan Lang. Here he’s a blind man whose home is invaded by a group of teens hoping to pull off a simple heist. Bad idea, it turns out.

Sure, these films sound about as different as the old and new “Ghostbusters” movies. Only the sex of the protagonist has been changed. Odd that it’s the fifty-year-old Audrey Hepburn movie that empowers women.

“Don’t Breathe” is currently playing in a darkened theater near you. Tropic Cinema, for instance.

You can be sure the film’s scary because it’s produced by Ghost House Pictures.

Stephen Lang plays The Blind Man. As you’ll recall, he had the roles of Col. Miles Quaritch in “Avatar” and General Hopgood in “The Men Who Stare at Goats.” He even narrated the PBS “Medal of Honor” documentary. And he portrayed General George Pickett in “Gettysburg” and General Stonewall Jackson in “Gods and Generals.” Stephen Lang exudes a certain military bearing, despite having attended a Quaker boarding school as a youth.

The three teenage invaders are played by Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, and Daniel Zavatto. You might have seen Levy in “Evil Dead,” Minnette in “Goosebumps,” and Zavatto in TV’s “Fear the Walking Dead” – good horror credits for each.

In this turnabout tale, they find themselves locked in a cat-and-mouse game with a man willing to kill them. A little more than they bargained for.

Director Fede Alvarez points out that Lang’s character starts off as an underdog, but soon we learn “there’s no way he can let them go. There’s not another option. He has to kill these kids.”

“Well, he’s really not a villain,” Stephen Lang defends his character. “He’s a brokenhearted man, is what he is. But, for all his heartbreak, he’s got a steel backbone, too. This all takes place in a really … kind of a bombed out section of Detroit. It’s a place that was one time a nice neighborhood that really reflected the values of the country in the ‘40s and ‘50s that was affluent and growing, and industry was booming and everything like that. And now when you see it, he’s an isolated guy in this neighborhood. People have left. Everything is falling to disrepair. It’s not only a metaphor of the nation and that city, it’s a metaphor for his own state of being….”

Victim or villain – you decide. But he’s certainly not as nice as Audrey Hepburn.

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