'Don't Breathe' : Movie Review - Celebania


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Thursday 1 September 2016

'Don't Breathe' : Movie Review

Fede Alvarez's first feature since his highly effective reawakening of 'Evil Dead' in 2013, this home-invasion psycho thriller is a sort of 'Wait Until dark' meets '10 Cloverfield Lane' in a pulsating, brutal and conscienceless pursuit of breath-taking thrills and gasp-every minute turns.

So while the events that transpire here seem manufactured and contrived the experience of it is so involving that you conveniently forget the sillies and wholeheartedly concentrate on seeing who gets out of this finger-wringer, alive.

For the three youngsters hell-bent on accumulating riches (by crook) in order to get out of their ghettoized existence, by breaking and entering a blind recluse's home (whom they know of as having received a huge payoff recently) is a piece of cake..or so it seems.

The three friends (Dylan Minnette, Jane Levy and Daniel Zovatto) may have managed to get inside the home of blind recluse, retired army man (Stephen Lang) but getting out with the money has inevitably become a far cry in the cat and mouse theatrics that ensues. What they plan for is not what happens inside. The money is not easy to find and the blind man is not as helpless as they thought he was, plus his guard dog is not as easily decommissioned as expected. To add to their woes, the security system is not all- engineered by Alex's father's Security Co either, so things go awry right from the word go and the three have to not only try and save their skin but also take the money out .. but that's easier said than done.

What Fede Alvarez does best is confine his characters within a tight space, play heavily on the lighting and keep the pacing tense and claustrophobic. Pedro Luque's camera literally prowls within the confined space, production designer Naaman Marshall's interiors look used and worn , Roque Banos' score adds heaviness to the atmosphere while the three credited editors cut and chop through, splicing together a labyrinthine narrative that is both mysterious and querulous. 'Don't Breathe' is far more grounded and believable than it's precursor '10 Cloverfield Lane.' It sucks you in and throws you out with equal relish. Of course there are plausibility issues given the contrived nature of the set-up. They don't hold up the enjoyment though.

There isn't any character development here. No time for it. The three intruders just want money to start new lives and they see nothing wrong in stealing it from a blind man who is well past his prime. Even though we get the picture about their dysfunctional lives we just don't empathise with their need for pulling off a heist. And to top that Alvarez makes even the so called helpless blind man unsympathetic. So for most of the movie you don't really care about who survives the brutality being unleashed but rather are more intrigued by how it's being done. So technique, camerawork, background score and tempo are the mainstay here. And of course the actors have to look scared yet play out the survival game at their most desperate.

It's a largely on-set exercise in terror and it's played out in real time with a never ending series of challenges thrown-up for survival against all odds -so the increase in heart rate is quite palpable. Also since the blind man has keener senses, it makes dialogue difficult for the intruders. So they have to hold their breath as best as they can, move with stealthiest light-footedness and muffle up their gasps even when they feel shocked out of their wits. Moral issues are segued over for experiential benefits. So issues that rancor never get to the fore and the viewer gets to have an experience that's memorable as long as it lasts.

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