Don’t breathe and don’t watch this movie. Trigger warnings for later in this review.
In Detroit, looking beautifully derelict, burglars find a potentially sweet score in a nearly derelict house in an otherwise abandoned area four blocks square. One of the burglars is a psychopath, his girlfriend is somewhat decent but a willing participant, and the odd man out is made to seem very much a nice guy. This doesn’t explain to us why he’s helping the other two break into houses. On a personal note, I think all burglars should be tortured to death, so I don’t feel much sympathy for the “good guy” being treated badly by the psycho.
The mark is blind, and though his house is secured with bars and locks and a security system, they get in pretty easily. Still, you find yourself on edge, because the house is not designed to be negotiated by a sighted person. There are no lights on, the windows are all too filthy to see through, and there’s a still creepiness that gets on the viewer’s nerves pretty quickly. As they move through the house, quietly looking for the bundle of cash they’re sure is there, the viewer begins to see some things they can’t. Things that promise bad times to come for the burglars.
With capable camera work, the director gives massive foreshadowing with a hammer and the “subtle” highlight of a basement door. A piece of broken glass acts as Hitchcock’s bomb under the table.
The word for this movie is tense. An amazing series of problems beset the main characters, all blending seamlessly into each other and growing more desperate by the minute. Again, because they’re burglars, I could care less that they’re fighting for their lives, but you may feel otherwise.
The characters are broadly drawn, down to the little sister who lives in a trailer with her frowzy mom and her mom’s degenerate boyfriend. The girl has a cast on one arm, in a not subtle hint that she’s in imminent danger of continued abuse. Cutting the action completely off from the world despite taking place in a suburban neighborhood gives Don’t Breathe a strong feeling of urban fantasy.
Here’s why you should not watch this otherwise decent thriller. The filmmakers have decided that playing with rape is a great way to shock and awe the audience. In interviews they say they “wanted to start a conversation”, but it’s obvious they’re using a horrible scenario in what they think is a great way to separate their movie from the rest. They’re Those Guys who think it’s not rape without a penis, and that making the right conciliatory noises after the fact excuses their voyeuristic auteurism. If I can manage it, this will be the last film I watch from this director.
CFR: In Addition: After reading Mildred’s review, I will not be watching this movie. Ever. Thanks Mildred and sorry you had to sully your eyes.
I too have no sympathy for burglars. I lost my wedding jewelry and a few family heirlooms to thieves who broke into my home 3 months after I got married. I needed to repair a broken window and my sense of well-being. I remember running through the house to be sure everything was safe – it was not. Good thing hubby got home before me and told me what had happened or I would have cried non-stop. Cops said they thought it was a bunch of teens who were having “fun”. Never found the perps, never found my stuff. People say that I am lucky I wasn’t in the house when they broke in. I say no: They are lucky I wasn’t home.
Please note I have great sympathy for the poor and hungry when they steal. I do NOT have any for punks who get kicks out of violating people’s homes. Yes, violating is the correct word. #MeToo
AND if you are going to victimize a vet, someone who was willing to lay down their life for our country, do NOT expect any sympathy from me. Ever.