The Good, The Bad & The Verdict: Don’t Breathe

The 1970’s and 80’s were a strange time in the world. From hostages in Iran to shootings at McDonald’s franchises in America, people had an excuse day in and day out to go to the movies. There, the nightmares were less plausible, but still could shake one to their very core as a person.

The Exorcist, Halloween and even Don’t Look Now all stand in sharp contrast to the kind of scary movie that dominates the box office today. These days, things are a non-stop gore fest, thinly developed plot and often designed to draw in teenagers looking to have fun first date. In the past, things were different. A horror or thriller film could have a good story, solid acting and even go on to impact our society on a cultural level. Thankfully, Don’t Breathe is that good.

Made by Fede Alvarez of Evil Dead fame, the piece finds the viewer watching a story unfolding in the city of Detroit. In the start of the romp, we are introduced to Rocky, Alex and Money, three young thieves who get their kicks robbing houses with security systems installed by Alex’s father. Wanting to obtain enough money to move out to California (Don’t we all.), the trio set their sights on the home of a Gulf War veteran and the rumored cash he keeps in his basement.

After some hokey backstory from the female named Rocky, the break in is on at nightfall. It’s here that the story takes off, what starts as an admittedly easy sounding heist soon devolves into a twist and turn filled scenario that will keep you guessing and gasping until the credits roll.

The Blind Man played here in an excellent turn by Stephen Lang, well; he’s not what he seems. What starts off as a grieving father rightfully angry at trespassers in his home is soon peeled back to reveal a degenerate psychopathy that would make musician G.G. Allin seem tame in contrast.

By the time the sun rises in the film and all the blood has been split, a tight story has unfolded that though it is admittedly wildly implausible turns out to be one of the best thriller/horror films in recent years. The final scene leaves the door open for a sequel of some sort, but I honestly don’t think one is needed. Mr. Alvarez has made something special that expertly answers each of the criticisms he received after Evil Dead and rightfully deserves to be lauded for it. Go see it.

The Good: The cinematography, twists and turns and Stephen Lang’s performance as the antagonist are top notch. Much like Michael Myers in Halloween, The Blind Man is slow, methodical and surely would send a chill down my spine if he existed in our actual reality.

The Bad: Some of the characters have very hokey backstory. We only see the parent of one of the principal trio, but that adult is so cartoonishly fucked up it borders on the absurd and dumb.

The Verdict: Despite some minor flaws, Don’t Breathe is a fun throwback to a style of thriller and horror film making that hasn’t dominated the box office in several decades. More movies need to be made like this one, if you can, go see it multiple times, as it is really that excellent.

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