Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Don’t Breathe: One Way or Another, Detroit Will Kill You
has slashed it police force by forty percent over the last ten years.
Ordinarily, that makes things awfully convenient for Rocky and her burglar
pals, because it means there just are not a lot of cops to respond to calls.
However, their perspective will change drastically when they pick the
profoundly wrong house to invade in Fede Alvarez’s Don’t Breathe (trailer here), which opens nationwide today.
population has fallen below 700,000 yet its murder rate is eleven times what we
have here in sprawling, unruly New York City. It is not uncommon to see one
lone house standing amongst the razed ruins of formerly residential
neighborhood. Rocky, her slimy boyfriend Money, and the torch-carrying Alex
think they will find a big score inside one of them. Supposedly, the owner is a
blind veteran, who received a large cash settlement when a well-heeled Grosse
Pointe teenager killed his daughter in a hit-and-run.
is sort of the inside man. His father works for a security company, so he has
access to their alarm codes. Ordinarily, he insists on strict ground rules. The
total haul should be under ten grand and include no cash. That way they can
avoid grand larceny charges. This job will violate all his terms, but he agrees
anyway for Rocky’s sake. In retrospect, that will be a profound mistake.
to say, the old man is spryer than they anticipated. In fact, he is pretty
chiseled. He also has rather sinister reasons for not wanting any visitors.
When the lights are out, he clearly holds home field advantage.
making the terrifying old man a veteran is a real buzz kill, but at least
Alvarez and co-screenwriter Rodo Sayagues try not to belabor the point (unlike
the aggressively disrespectful Dementia).
Arguably, it is the quickest credible explanation for why an old blind cat
would have a commando’s physique (being a cop wounded on the job could add
unnecessary narrative complications).
any event, there is a ton of sneaking around on tippy-toe in Breathe, which Alvarez executes quite
adroitly. Ironically, some of the most intense sequences spell out of the
inhospitable house, in part because they underscore just how on your own you
are in some Detroit neighborhoods.
always, Stephen Lang is massively hardnosed as the old man, whom he plays with
extra crustiness and erratic twitchiness this time around. Jane Levy chokes
back screams and holds her breath pretty effectively, but it is hard to get how
she got involved with Money, Daniel Zovatto’s white trash caricature or Alex,
the big nothing blandly portrayed by Dylan Minnette.
Alvarez keeps raising the stakes nicely,
maintaining a tight, tense one-darned-thing-after-another pace. It is maybe not
staggeringly original (one could argue it shares surface similarities with
Viet Nguyen’s Crush the Skull and
Adam Schindler’s Intruders, both of
which are even better), but it gets the genre job done. Recommended for horror
fans, Don’t Breathe opens in theaters
across the country today (8/26), including the AMC Empire in New York.
Labels: Detroit, Horror Movies