Genuinely thrilling and, well, good horror/thriller films are a hard find these days. With complete flops and/or failures like Amityville Horror (2005), Poltergeist (2015), Smiley (2012), Birdemic (2008) and practically every Paranormal Activity reboot, the world has created a large skepticism towards new films of such genre.
Of course, not all thrillers of this century deserve the bashing critics and movie-goers alike give to the genre. With masterpieces such as, It Follows (2014) and critically acclaimed jewels like The Conjuring (2013), not all hope is lost.
Don’t Breathe, while faithful to the thriller genre, cannot quite grasp the genuine thrill needed to make this movie come alive, falling into neither category.
With its beginning sequence starting in the somewhat stereotypical slums of Detroit, our main protagonist Rocky (Jane Levy), her “White Trash” boyfriend who calls himself Money (Daniel Zovatto), and Alex (Dylan Minnette), a smart young man with a very obvious crush on Rocky, breaks into a rich household. They keep things under control when looting, stealing only a maximum of $10,000 worth of items or cash in case they are arrested. Thus, they would receive a minor sentence. They enter the home with the keys Alex possesses through his dad, who works in the security business. After taking their fair share, they leave and throw a rock at the window to sound the alarm, taking away any suspicion from Alex’s father.
The scene then cuts away to the home of Rocky. Her mother, obviously going through a midlife crisis, is on the couch with her loafing boyfriend surrounded by empty beer glasses and food strewn across the floor. Rocky’s little sister is sitting in the dining room opposite her mother, wearing a fairy outfit. You get a glimpse of Rocky talking about how one day they are going to California, far from “this place.”
For their next raid, they plan to take on a blind war veteran (Avatar’s Stephen Lang) whose daughter died after getting hit by a car and is sitting on $300,000. Already, you’re thinking, “man, this is a disaster just waiting to happen.” You’re right.
As they enter the house, the cinematography already proves to be quite impressive. They split up and search the house with one long shot displaying what each are up to, the camera never wavering. The green hue that shrouds the screen sets up a gloomy and dark atmosphere, foreshadowing the inevitable awakening of the blind man, and their inevitable peril.
Also providing some satisfyingly disturbing images, such as the completely dark pupils as Rocky and Alex search for a way out of the completely dark basement. Yet, it also fails to surprise and actually scare the audience. The entire movie, while enjoyable, was mainly just an entertainment piece that was meant to scare, but just didn’t. The acting, direction, and cinematography were all well coordinated and well played out, but it fails to do the one thing that we all came to see the film for: frighten us.
Featured photo courtesy of The Movie Blog