Monday, August 29, 2016

Movie Review: Don’t Breathe

Has it really been a month since I went to the movies last? I almost did a double feature yesterday. I wanted to see Hell or High Water, but after running/jogging 11 miles at 5.30 yesterday morning, I needed some nap time, which the Washington Nationals provided with a lackluster performance against the Colorado Rockies. Yes, this is my life and this is also a judgement free zone, because I said so.

I was genuinely surprised when I saw this movie took the box office this weekend. I was in a mostly empty theatre, less than a hundred people in a pretty big space, one that probably fits closer to 250-300. The commercials were fairly accurate in portraying how haunting the film would be. The circumstances of all the characters made the ending conflicting for me.

The movie is set in Detroit. The opening scenes pan through the remnants of what was once a prosperous area of the country. Now the roads are pitted with potholes, the houses empty, covered in graffiti, people downtrodden, finding no place to work. The sad setting blends into an opening scene with the audience meeting the three main characters, petty thieves who have keys to different places because one of the character’s father is a security guard. To make money, the group steal from these homes, keeping the costs below a certain amount so it won’t be considered grand larceny. I don’t know the specifics of the law, so I took the information at face value. This attention to detail comes up when they decide on their next target.

Rocky, the female protagonist, is living with her mother and a small child who I’m still unclear as to whether this was her child or her little sister. The reason Rocky and her friends, Alex and Money, because they are trying to make enough cash to leave Detroit. This goal doesn’t justify their actions, but it does reinforce the circumstances that have befallen them and the US economy.

When Money fences the items they stole at the beginning of the money, he gets a paltry amount for it. The man who he sold the stuff to gives him a location of a man who lives in an abandoned neighborhood of Detroit who has a lot of cash, or so they think. The three case the man’s home, seeing that he doesn’t go out much, has a vicious dog and is blind. The last part makes them think twice, but Money counters with the oddly true statement that ‘the man is no saint.’ 

The group set out for the house and when they try to break in, realize there are four locks on the door whereas they only have one key. This forces them to use a window to climb through in the second floor to get in. Rocky is the smallest and climbs through, letting the other two in. Money sets of some sort of chloroform like bomb in the room with the blind man, but unbeknownst to our so-called heroes, he isn’t asleep. There is nothing to be found in most of the house, save for a locked door leading into the basement. Money shoots the lock off, which causes Alex, the ‘smart’ one, to want to leave, because having a weapon during a crime makes the stakes increase exponentially. He heads for the door, putting his shoes back on. Money shoots the lock of and the blind guy isn’t so asleep, killing him right before Rocky. The title of the movie very much comes into play as the rest of the movie turns into a big game of cat and mouse. The story takes a vicious turn when Alex and Rocky end up in the basement, finding a women imprisoned below.

The rest of the story continues to be jarring. For once, I didn’t have reasonable alternatives to what the protagonists should have been doing. I won’t SPOIL the entirety of the movie, but it doesn’t go well for at least half of the people involved. Much like Purge Election Year, this movie had more that it was saying than just the usual horror fare. The necessity to rob makes the protagonists ones you want to cheer for. When you first meet the blind man, a veteran, you feel badly for him. The two sides, kids who need money, and a guy who has money but will miss it, are two groups that should be clear cut. The movie throws in the tragedy of the man’s daughter being killed and the killer going free, until we find her in the basement. The blind man has captured her (how a blind man accomplished this without anyone knowing seems like a story by itself). The story devolves further and the blind man is turned into a straight villain, one that has a secret he needs to protect, so the one person who does survive can escape without retribution, or so the audience is led to hope.

Again, I’m not sure I’d recommend this movie. There were absolutely no minorities represented, and for a movie set in Detroit, it seemed mystifying that no African Americans existed. There is at least one scene that is downright cringe-worthy, and not for the horror element. The acting was solid, the story kept me engaged and the atmosphere was near perfect for a horror movie.

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