Movie Review: Don’t Breathe (2016)

Theatrical Release Poster via WikiPedia.
Theatrical Release Poster via WikiPedia.

After seeing a lot of hype and good ratings for the recently released thriller Don’t Breathe, I was finally given the opportunity to watch it thanks to my beloved boyfriend, and I’m not entirely sure whether I would give it a thumbs up or a thumbs down. I do know, however, that despite all its praise, I was not overly impressed. Before I continue onward with my thoughts regarding Don’t Breathe, I would like to let readers know that this post does contain some spoilers, particularly in relation to two scenes in the movie, one of which I found to be beautifully done, and another which was absolutely and completely ridiculous.

In the trailer for Don’t Breathe, we are given the idea that three small time thieves have decided to break into a blind man’s house under the assumption that he’s an easy target. When the movie starts, and at which point it actually begins with a spoiler of its own, we ultimately learn that the reason he’s a target is this: he’s sitting on a nice sum of money after his daughter was struck and killed by a car. The thieves are largely minor characters, with the exception of Rocky, the female among the trio. Rocky’s role plays into the viewer’s sympathy by giving us a look at her background: namely the fact that she’s a single mother in desperate need of getting away from the crappy world she’s trapped in. Her goal is to steal her way to freedom, for lack of better wording.

Having chosen their target based on the hope of it being an easy haul, the trio break into the blind man’s house, only to find that they aren’t really nearly as prepared as they had hoped. Though the man is blind, he is anything but helpless, and this is a folly that the trio discover quickly — and that is basically the gist of the movie. A group of kids break into a blind man’s home to steal his money, only to find themselves fending for their own lives. It’s like a reverse slasher film, almost. In fact, one of the things I really liked about how they shot Don’t Breathe is the fact that they included actual set-ups where the camera zoomed in on items that would play key roles later in the film. That alone kept me interested, because I found myself wanting to see how some of these items might come into play. I’m sure there’s technical terms for half of what I said there, but unlike my boyfriend, I’m not that much of a cinephile so please excuse any ignorance on my part.

Now, in reference to my spoiler notice earlier, I’d like to focus on those two scenes, and why they affected me in the way that they did. The first one is Money’s death. Money is one of the minor thieves and is the first to die. The manner in which his death is shot is so beautifully filmed that I actually feel guilty that for whatever reason, my boyfriend chose to look at me instead of the screen at that moment. When the blind man shoved the gun against his mouth and pulled the trigger, I was surprised to see that they actually lit up the inside of Money’s mouth with the flash – teeth and all. By far, this puts the scene among my favorites involving grisly deaths.

However awesome that scene might have been, the next scene to snare my attention completely and totally ruined it. Given the perspective, as a viewer it’s kinda hard not to feel a bit sorry for Rocky or the blind man. They both appear to be in less than ideal situations, and they’ve both been wronged. Both characters also turn to crime to try and right those wrongs, with Rocky wanting to escape and the blind man wanting to replace his dead daughter. It’s not an entirely unimaginable situation, and when you really think about it, it’s actually a bit heartbreaking — only Don’t Breathe takes the issue to an entirely new level of disturbing, and I actually found myself laughing in the theater, when I probably shouldn’t have. While Rocky and Alex are trying to escape the blind man, they find themselves in the basement, and there they learn that the blind man is holding captive the woman that killed his daughter. Worse, when he ends up accidentally shooting her, we discover she was pregnant… with his child. His logic is that she took his daughter away, so she will replace her. As a result of her death, the blind man takes Rocky captive, and thus begins the turkey baster rape attempt.

First and foremost, I would like to remind those reading this that I do not condone rape in any form or fashion; it is disgusting. The fact that I laughed at this scene has little to do with what was being attempted, and instead a lot to do with how it was shot. In order to once more create his spawn, and to free his mind of the guilt of actually committing rape, the blind man actually keeps his stuff stored in a refrigerator. After capturing Rocky, he warms it up, sucks it into a turkey baster, and then approaches her. The next few frames show him moving closer, while holding the turkey baster in the same manner that a killer in a slasher flick will hold a knife: as if he is preparing to stab her. It was a shot that was so ridiculous, and so out of place, that it actually made it extremely difficult to remain serious about the movie. It is a scene that could have been done without, and even now I still feel it would best serve the film by being cut from it.

Ultimately, Don’t Breathe was not a bad movie. In comparison to a lot of the films we see in the horror and thriller genres nowadays, it’s actually pretty decent. My expectations were, of course, on the loftier side, and I honestly think that without the turkey baster scene, it would have been a much, much better film.

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