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Remember to breathe

For the most part I’ve been lukewarm to the new modern horror films populating the silver screen. But when I went to The Conjuring 2 earlier this year, I was pleasantly surprised by the storytelling and it rekindled my love of the horror film.

Now, I’m more prone to take trips to the movies waiting for the thrill of the scare. With that being said, I went in blind to Don’t Breathe. My girlfriend was in town for the weekend and, because she too loves horror movies, asked if I wanted to go see Don’t Breathe. I hadn’t seen much press about it but decided it was good for a Saturday night trip.

Director Fede Alvarez’s second offering is a thrilling adventure about three teenage burglars who decide to rob a blind army veteran’s house. The vet sits on a small fortune because of his daughter’s wrongful death court settlement. The 88-minute film wastes little time settling into the major plot and the blind man’s house, where the majority of the picture takes place. His house – in the middle of an abandoned neighbourhood – becomes a shape shifting haunted mansion with more going on behind the scenes than first meets the eye. As the film progresses, the tension builds to insurmountable heights. The characters become trapped and hunted. We don’t know what’s coming next. We aren’t sure who to cheer for, which makes all the action and violence more intriguing.

The blind man is the centrepiece and best part of the film. Stephen Lang’s performance as the originally sympathetic, turned gruesome villain is the magic behind the movie. The strength in any film lies in direct correlation with its villain and this is no exception. As the tension tightens, the weight of escape, fortune and mortality all create a dilemma that taunts and eludes the robbers. They all want to bank one last score so they can move away from their gloomy lives and start fresh. But soon enough they are hoping for their lives back instead.

Generally, I am skeptical when I pay money to go to the movies, especially to go see a horror film. I fixate on small flaws or chunky dialogue or missteps in the plot. But here Mr. Alvarez did a marvellous job of engaging the entire theatre for the full runtime, as there isn’t a slow part to take out. The paper-thin teenage characters are at the beginning uninteresting but that fades away as the film develops.

Don’t Breathe earns its R rating but be warned some of the content is dark and disturbing. There is little doubt a few patrons were uncomfortable for portions of the film. But out of any grotesqueness comes scenes making the movie even more entertaining. It is done with care, not just for shock value and it works with the story. Don’t Breathe is better because of its dark content.

After seeing it on the weekend we walked out of the theatre and weren’t exactly sure what we just watched. I’m still not sure if the movie is really good or not. What I can tell you is that it’s superbly entertaining and worth the $16 ticket. Don’t Breathe at times becomes remember to breathe as this is a promising return to interesting horror films in the future.

– Michael Menzies

Image from Screen Rant

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