Schlocktoberfest 2K16 Day 21: Don’t Breathe (2016)

I have this same reaction when I know Stephen Lang is a brilliant actor but the only thing I've seen him in is Tombstone.
The reaction everyone will have when I reveal that the  only other film I’ve watched with Stephen Lang in it is Tombstone.

Synopsis: Hoping to walk away with a massive cash, a trio of thieves break into the house of a sick man who isn’t as helpless as he seems.

The problem with a lot of contemporary horror is film studios love  to dictate to their directors, writers and producers that sticking to a formula will automatically equal box office gold. Originality always goes a long way but only if you’ve built a reputation inside the industry will the corporate suits allow you a have a few minutes to pitch something entirely outside the box. I imagine this is what happened when Fede Alvarez presented the concept of Don’t Breathe as he was coming hot off the heels the universal praise his soft remake of Evil Dead was receiving. It’s not everyday a relative nobody will be spotted by the original creators of such a beloved horror franchise and be given the creative freedom to take the property into a realm that doesn’t feel dated or deliberately try to get the audience on board by recreating shots from three decades ago in precise detail. Making a statement on a piece of established property is the trial by fire if you can hit the ground running and create something that the studio, critics, and movie fans alike universally get behind than you deserve to be rewarded by taking your next big chance out on to the freeway and opening the throttle all the way up past 100.

Remember when I mentioned that outside the box frame of thinking earlier? Well Don’t Breathe applies this for 85% of it’s duration. Apart from the cookie cutter attempt at character development once the home invasion aspect is dialed in good luck trying to advert your eyes away from the screen. The moment the switch is flipped is where the movie is forced to tell the story through silence and body language rather than risking the chance of any cheesy dialogue weighing the plot down. I mean when is the audience going to feel tension? In a film’s quietest moments or when someone is having a long conversation with other characters over what their next course of action should be. The tension starts as a small ripple and as expands outwards becoming more larger in scale and just when you think its going to subside in comes a perfect crescendo where Jane Levy’s character starts up a dialogue with Stephen Lang. The audience gets to do character building through watching the thieves slowly begin realize that just because their target is without his sight doesn’t mean that they can rob him blind. It’s adaptation in its finest form, when we lose one of our senses we quickly learn how to rely on our others so its definitely a more reserved take on the classic game of cat and mouse. Lang doesn’t need his eyes to convey a full range of emotions he’s a literal force of nature suppressed to the confines of his own home.  Which is why when Levy finally does get him to talk you’re drawn to every single word. Perhaps its a good thing there hasn’t been another horror/thriller in recent months to match the intensity of Don’t Breathe believe me after you watch this you’ll be thanking your lucky stars that you still have all five senses.

Final Grade: B+


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