Don’t Breathe (2016) stars Stephen Lang, Jane Levy, and Dylan Minnette. It is classified as a Crime, Horror, Thriller with a total run time of one hour and twenty-eight minutes. In this film we meet three friends, Rocky, Alex, and Money, who rob houses together in the city of Detroit. They pick a house where they hear a whole fortune is hidden. The owner of this house? An old, blind recluse war veteran. Confident they can get away with a fortune, the friends break into the house and discover that the blind man is not as helpless as he seems.
WARNING THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS
Don’t Breathe Plot
This was an interesting idea for a film and is a bit different from other horror movies that came out in 2016. The plot remains fairly straight forward with our trio of burglars getting trapped in the blind man’s house but it does have an extra element to it. Not only is the blind man more than capable to defend himself but we find out that he is also a little mad with grief over the loss of his daughter. He kidnapped the girl who accidentally killed his daughter with her car and was holding her prisoner to give him another child. When Rocky and Alex are trying to escape they discover the girl and break her free. The blind man shoots her by mistake and she dies. He then captures Rocky and explains to her that since she was responsible for killing his second child that she would now have to repay him by being the carrier of his baby.
The blind man states quite clearly that he is no rapist. Instead of forcing himself on her, they show that he plans to inseminate Rocky with a turkey baster full of his semen. This was an interesting and different way for the film makers to achieve the same goals but it is clearly no less of a violation than rape. How this scene is presented in the film does an alright job of capturing Rocky’s horror and sense of violation. They could have done a better job of playing up the horrifying notion of this attack and the prospects of the following 9 months after a successful conception.
This film had some interesting characters but none of them had very much depth. The ones with the greatest amount of depth are Rocky and Alex. The audience is given a few shots to highlight some of the background for each of those characters. This gives the audience what drives and motivates each one. It also gives us an understanding of why Alex knows so much about the laws around certain crimes. Alex is the moral character of the film. While he does engage in burglary, he keeps the crimes small and encourages the other characters to do the right thing. It is also clear that his part in the crimes is purely to help Rocky. Given the amount of smart choices he displays throughout the film it is a little disappointing that he would miss the obvious mistake with the handcuffs near the end.
The film focuses more on Rocky’s character. We learn that she is trying to get money to get her and her sister away from their verbally abusive mother. There are some good reasons to like Rocky but she also makes a lot of dumb choices. This makes it a bit more difficult to like her. In the original script, the writers had her remaining trapped in the house but it was decided that ending would be too bleak. Her escape is a more optimistic ending but does she really deserve to escape? The outcome of many elements of the movie would have been much different if not for her stupid decisions.
Atmosphere & Tension
The lack of vision of the blind man and his necessary familiarity of his own house gives the opportunity to play with the senses quite nicely. The film definitely took advantage of this fact. The do a great job of building the atmosphere and tension by removing the light from certain scenes and keeping the background music to a minimum. There are some scenes where you hold your breath with one of the characters because the tension of the moment is so well done. This movie really shines when considering this aspect of film making.
There are some definite problems with continuity in this film. Some of the more minor points include different marks on windows or shirts that range wildly in between takes. The turkey baster also changes in how much liquid is in it quite dramatically between shots. There is also a scene where Rocky is being chased by the dog and her backpack magically disappears and appears within the same scene. These are smaller, more forgivable issues.
There are four very large and glaring continuity issues. The first includes the fact that the blind man cut power to the basement fairly early in the film. This is problematic for the moment that they hit the button on the washing machine to distract the blind man, the washing machine should not have worked. The second obvious error is when the dog chases Rocky and Alex into the bedroom. They slam the door and look for an exit but all the windows have bars on them and they cannot find somewhere to go. A few minutes later, Alex is clearly thrown through a window with no bars on it from that very room. The third is that the blind man very clearly bars the back door. The dog somehow is in the house when there is no dog door, the last shot of the dog showed it tied up outside, and the old man had been in the basement since the last time anyone was upstairs and would not have had an opportunity to bring the dog inside…. So how did the dog get inside?? Lastly, the blind man cuts a huge hole in the bottom of Rocky’s pants when he intends to impregnate her. Despite the cut being huge and roughly done her pants look perfectly intact for the rest of the film.
Don’t Breathe is an excellent film and hardly a waste of time. It is engaging and holds your attention. It has a wonderful sense of suspense to many moments of the film and gives the audience something a little different from the usual. Stronger character development would have made this film better. There are also a few continuity errors that are pretty obvious that weaken it. We still think it’s a pretty worth while watch. Overall Love of Gothic gives it 3.5 out of 5 bats.
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