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'Don't Breathe' Film Review: Hell hath no fury like a blind man scorned

August 25, 2016Ben MK

There are too many horror remakes that fail to live up to the terror elicited by the original. Most people, however, would argue that 2013's The Evil Dead isn't one of them. Now, producers Sam Raimi and Robert Tapert, director Fede Alvarez and star Jane Levy have reteamed for a followup — a movie that takes the traditional elements of a siege thriller and turns the genre on its ear.

In Don't Breathe, Levy plays Rocky, a teenager who longs to escape her dead-end, trailer park kind of existence in Detroit, where she lives with her little sister Diddy, her mother, and her mom's skeevy boyfriend. But this ain't 8 Mile; and so to do so, Rocky and her friends/cohorts, Money (Daniel Zovatto) and Alex (Dylan Minnette), will just have to keep on doing what they're doing, which is breaking into unsuspecting homeowners' domiciles and relieving them of their valuables, until they've amassed enough cash for Rocky and Diddy to flee to California.

Then one day, Money gets wind of a mark that seems too good to be true: a blind Gulf War veteran (Avatar's Stephen Lang) who lives alone, and who's rumored to be sitting on a six-figure sum in cold, hard cash, all of it stashed away somewhere within the walls of his dilapidated abode, situated in the middle of a virtually abandoned neighborhood. The temptation too tantalizing to resist, Rocky, Money and Alex set a plan in motion to rob the Blind Man — well, blind. Unfortunately, it ends up being a decision that not all of them will live to regret.

Like the similarly-themed Intruders, which centered on a group of would-be robbers who find the tables violently turned against them when they target the home of an agoraphobic young woman, what follows is a whole lot of bad news for our not-so-heroic trio, as they soon discover that what their intended victim lacks in sight, he more than makes up for with his other senses, which have been heightened to the point of superhuman prowess. Locked inside the Blind Man's home, they find their seemingly simple heist transformed into a bitter fight for survival.

Ostensibly, there are no genuine protagonists in Don't Breathe, at least not in the traditional sense of the word, as all four of the film's main characters have some degree of villainy in them. However, you'd be surprised at just how quickly the taut and tension-filled script by Alvarez and co-writer Rodo Sayagues can manage to make you rethink where you're directing your sympathies, when the character you're rooting for one moment is suddenly revealed to be as twisted, despicable and downright perverted as an antagonist from the Saw franchise.

As for the film's scares — which, for the most part, aren't of the cheap variety — they're paced out evenly, and the grueling violence proves unrelenting. But, of course, if you saw The Evil Dead, you probably already figured as much. Whether it's a point-blank gunshot to the head or someone being viciously impaled with a pair of garden shears, it's impossible to predict what kind of ultimate fate some of these characters will meet. The only thing that's truly guaranteed is that you'll never look at a turkey baster quite the same way again.

Don't Breathe releases August 26th, 2016 from Sony Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of R for terror, violence, disturbing content, and language including sexual references. Its runtime is 1 Hr. 28 Mins.

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