It’s been a while since I last posted on this blog.
Back then, I was fresh out of my Masters, and still debating how I was going to proceed with my final project/other blog, ‘New to Comics’. I do intend to keep that going, but in the intervening months between then and now, I’ve been a cleaner, then unemployed, and now work part-time at That’s Entertainment.
For a lot of that time, I haven’t been able to afford to keep buying the comics and films that I would need to keep it going, so until I do, I’ve decided to take a different route; I figured, why let my collection of DVDs sit there, some of them barely touched, when I could just go back across the decades and review those? So that’s what I’m going to aim to do; at least one new film review every week. It’ll be anything from recent releases like Don’t Breathe, to classics like The Godfather.
So here we go, welcome back to my blog (or just welcome, if you’ve never been here before), let’s get to it!
First up? As the title would suggest, it’s the aforementioned Don’t Breathe.
RELEASED: 26th August 2016
DIRECTED BY: Fede Álvarez
WRITTEN BY: Fede Álvarez & Rodo Sayagues
PRODUCED BY: Fede Álvarez, Sam Raimi & Robert Tapert
STARRING: Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto & Stephen Lang
REVIEW: I’ve been wanting to watch this film for a while, and now that I’ve finally gotten round to it, almost a year after release, I can safely say it doesn’t disappoint.
The film follows three teens (Levy, Minnette & Zovatto) who have been robbing from numerous houses that have security systems installed by one of their fathers (hence how they have the keys and technology to disable the alarms). Although they shy away from stealing money, they realise they may be able to end their criminal careers if they pull off one final big score. Targeting an wealthy elderly veteran who lives in a mostly abandoned neighbourhood, they soon discover the man is blind. However, after breaking into his house that night and quickly becoming locked in, they discover something else… he’s a murderous psychopath.
For starters, the film is an excellent subversion of the home invasion premise. Despite the protagonists being suspect people for breaking into various homes; as soon as the tables are turned on them, you start to become sympathetic to their plight.
This isn’t necessarily because they’re interesting, fleshed out characters – out of the three, only one of them is, while the others’ character progression are only furthered along by somewhat cliche plot points. Instead, your alignment with the three teens comes from the terrifying turn by Stephen Lang as ‘The Blind Man’. While at times, his character’s accent can seem a bit weird, everything else about him is fantastic. His body-language, the brutality of his actions… even his scarred eyes make for an intensely creepy watch.
While there’s not a load that explicitly screams horror for most of this movie (I’d instead class it strictly as a thriller) the tension that Lang’s character brings to each of his scenes are what make the film truly captivating. His character twists and turns between being understandable and truly monstrous, and even him just standing, listening is cause enough to make the audience recoil.
And despite their characters shortcomings, the actors who portray the three teens also give strong turns. Jane Levy, obviously, is the focus, having starred in director Fede Álvarez’ previous film Evil Dead (which, for the record, I also love). Like there, she’s the sort of victim that you can really route for; her fear is palpable and you really want her to get out alive.
Unfortunately, the weakest point in the movie comes around an hour in, when these two central character finally, properly converse. I say this because up to this point, the film has been expertly shot and the tension is always ridiculously high. Unfortunately, at this point, while the direction remains superb, the story starts to falter a little bit, and there are moments where you’re at risk of being pulled out of the movie.
However, these moments are pretty short and few and far between, and in spite of them, Don’t Breathe is a crazy entertaining film. While I may not concede that it’s the ‘Best American Horror Film in Twenty Years’ (don’t ask me what that would be, because I couldn’t tell you), it definitely deserves the various accolades it has received, and as I tweeted last night after watching it…
(And if you check those likes, you’ll see that Mr Álvarez is one of the people who liked it, so that only strengthens my enjoyment of this film).
All in all, I give it:
For being an extremely entertaining film, with just a few wobbles towards the end.