‘Don’t Breathe’ is an Ever-Tightening Noose

Three burglars break into the home of a blind old man to rob him… uh… blind, I guess. But, when the old man turns out to be a ruthless ex-marine who is territorial and honked off, the robbers must – very quietly – figure out a way to escape before the blind old man makes them living impaired.

We’ve had a Summer so gorged on big budget blockbusters that many of them are dropping like flies. Independence Day 2? Flop. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2? Flop. Tarzan? Flop. Alice Through the Looking Glass? Flop. Ben Hur? Wait… They re-made Ben Hur? Doesn’t matter. Flopped.

I was having a conversation with a friend of mine the other day, talking about Box Office Armageddon 2016, about why so many movies are doing so badly. Even critically successful movies like Star Trek Beyond and Ghostbusters are having a hard time with it (though, let’s not be stupid and call them flops because, despite what the exaggerated headlines say and the studio bean counters looking for tax write-offs, they’re making their money back). My conclusion? Hollywood is out of control with the blockbusters. Too many are being released, sequels that no one asked for are being greenlit, and the schedule is so packed that it’s creating a business model that cannot sustain itself. Hollywood has got to wisen up and stop being so loose with its checkbook.

What does this have to do with Don’t Breathe? I’m glad you asked.

Don’t Breathe is the kind of movie that Hollywood should be making in the Summer. Sure, there will always be room for big budget movies like Batman v. Superman, Suicide Squad, and Finding Dory, but modest high-concept movies that the audience actually wants to see are where the future lies. Deadpool, for example, was made for a measly 58 million and made over 700 million worldwide. Sausage Party was made for only 19 million and made double that in its first week. Heck, even a movie like Pete’s Dragon (I have not seen it yet) which never opened at number one and fell out of the top ten rather quickly will still make a profit thanks to its low production cost.

It’s not only that these movies are relatively cheap, but they are of high quality as well. They give the audience what they want instead of forcing it on them (looking through the looking glass at you, Alice). Don’t Breathe is just that type of movie. For Zues’ sake, this movie only cost 10 million to make. It probably made that money back from the large Cherry Pepsi and Popcorn I bought at the concession stand!

And it’s good…. so good! This is a masterfully told story of three people getting in over their head and trying to find their way out of an ever-tightening noose. I’m actually struggling to think of a movie that kept the intensity up as well as Don’t Breathe did and I honestly cannot remember one. Call that lavish praise for this movie or my own faulty memory, I don’t really care… Just know that the moment that the youths enter the house, the tension in the film builds and builds and builds and continues to build only getting better and better as it goes on. This movie actually leaves you feeling exhausted.

Not only is it masterfully and exhaustively paced, but it actually has fun playing with audience loyalties. No one is exactly what they seem and, trust me, no one in this movie is an angel. That being said, you’ll be surprised to find yourself rooting for everyone in this movie at least once before the movie flips the script on you and changes everything.

I would not call this movie a horror movie, but it is a heart-thumping thriller of the highest degree. Not only exciting, but all the more engaging because it’s actually very believable. It’s not some ghost or demon going through the house looking for kills, it’s just a guy with a disability, underestimated. About the only thing in this movie that wasn’t believable is the response time of the Detroit police.

This movie surpassed my every expectation and, to be perfectly honest, I’m actually thinking it’s got a shot at getting on my Best of 2016 list at the end of the year.

Stephen Lang is incredible as the nameless blind man and the supporting characters keep your scorn and sympathy just as well. I know I started this review on a bit of a rant, but if Hollywood wants to survive into the future, they’ve got to change things. Modest budgets and quality like this would be a good start.

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