Review 244: Don’t Breathe (2016)
I was very interested in seeing Don’t Breathe after seeing the trailer. The suspense is definitely there, but the character development didn’t resonate with me. The film definitely wants to get going on delivering the suspense and sacrifices it’s characters and story for it. However, there are strong elements and some really cool visuals that help elicit the reaction from the audience. I give Don’t Breathe the Decent Watch rating.
Rocky (Jane Levy), Alex (Dylan Minnette), and Money (Daniel Zovatto) have been robbing houses to get enough money to get out of Detroit. They select a home that looks like an easy target and an even bigger score. The home belongs to a blind man (Stephen Lang) and they are very wrong.
I don’t mind when a film forgoes character development to tell a story that’s either innovating, captivating, or breathtaking. However, I’m not sure that this film accomplished either. They went for some surprises, but often they felt unnatural. Even identifying who the protagonist is a little difficult. It’s clearly supposed to be Rocky, but I find her to be less sympathetic than Alex. I’m not sure if my recent studying of Blake Snyder has made me dislike films that don’t follow story structure. It’s possible that I would have loved this film a year ago, but now see some issues with the narrative.
Fortunately, director Fede Alvarez does do some really cool work visually. When the group first breaks into the house there is a steadicam long take that follows various members of the trio. It does a good job of creating the frenetic pacing that one would experience in those conditions. The lighting and pacing of the film create quite the atmosphere for the tension that is building. The sequence from the trailer where the characters are in complete darkness is pretty fantastic. Yet, I was never truly invested in the characters so their plight doesn’t hold the weight I think it should. Unlike the earlier released film Green Room, which also jumps to the action but the characters seem far more innocent. Thus, I care about their well-being throughout the film.
I wanted to love it, but I just liked it. Again, I think my recent obsession with the STC BS2 may have swayed my opinion of the film. There are elements that are lacking and some leaps in logic that I don’t agree with. However, there is definitely a lot of good in this movie. Ultimately, I think it could have been better.