Movie Review : Don't Breathe (2016)
* this review contains spoilers *
For all the movies I’ve seen, I can’t remember one occurrence of being inspired or challenged by a blind character. Because the crippling nature of their condition supersedes anything positive that could happen to them. Even Daredevil. They’re blind and because of that, their lives will always suck more than mine no matter what they do. So, blind characters in horror movies are either cheap victims or creepy sorcerer types that don’t do much. Or murderous freak, like in Don’t Breathe, a 2016 slasher movie about the most idiotic home invaders who ever lived.
Don’t Breathe is the story of Rocky (Jane Levy), Alex (Dylan Minnette) and a white guy with cornrows nicknamed Money (Daniel Zovatto), three dimwitted teenagers robbing houses to raise enough money to run away to California. They get tipped about this blind army veteran (Stephen Lang) who’s allegedly sitting on a $300,000 court settlement for the death of his daughter. And they decide to rob him because they’re terrible people. But it turns out that robbing a cracked out, mustard gas sniffing Iraq war veteran isn’t a fucking walk in the park, like advertised.
This movie has an 88% rating on Rottentomatoes and I’m exactly sure why. It has so many screenwriting problems, I’m not sure where to start. Our protagonists are reluctant teenage home invaders, which is the strangest thing to be reluctant about. If anything requires a modicum of dedication, it’s breaking into people’s home and violating their privacy. Trying to convince people you do this out of necessity is a hard sell. Now I don’t mind evil characters, but they’re not even resourceful about it. In the first scene where the blind man appears, he’s unarmed and Money has a gun pointed on him. They’re three. THREE. How difficult is it to peacefully subdue a blind man and leave the premises?
Now, I’d have rooted for the blind man like it’s custom in slasher movies. Slashers aren’t good guys, but they’re agents of retribution against people who live an immoral life. But I felt a little queasy rooting for a psychorapist using restorative justice as an excuse to impregnate young women using a turkey baster. What the fuck was that about? So you got evil dimwits hellbent to leaving for California rich on one side and an old blind perv with deadly skills on the other. Who am I supposed to care for? The idea of Don’t Breathe was solid on paper, but it was so hastily written and bathing in clichés that it’s tough to get emotionally involved.
Don’t Breathe was meant to be a pseudo-commentary on Detroit’s housing crisis and how the city never recovered from the U.S’ last financial crisis in 2008. It doesn’t really do that. Instead, it enforces how greedy and unresourceful millenials can be against adversity and as a millenial myself I say fuck that shit. Don’t Breathe looks good, I’ll give it that, but it walks a fine line between unoriginality and all-out stupidity for 90 minutes. And there’s a Don’t Breathe 2 coming around the corner. Because apparently, there are more people willing to antagonize a blind man for their own selfish reasons.