Don't Breathe

Don't Breathe ★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

sad to admit I thought, leaving the theater, that this worked best for me as a kind of shaggy-dog pitch black joke about Fox News, Cable TV, and the way it approaches veterans' issues and patriotism.

Unfortunately the punchline was probably just there to set up DON'T BREATHE II: CALIFORNIA DREAMIN' (Jane Levy gets a UPS package delivered to her door in California. She opens it. Rottweiler pops out. Freeze-frame and voice-over: 'Yep. That's me.You're probably wondering how I got into this mess.')

Actually I really was enjoying myself throughout the first act-up to Money's murder, I was thinking that I could see why this drew so much positive buzz (full caveat-I have a kind of grudging admiration for Alvarez's EVIL DEAD remake and will watch Stephen Lang in pretty much anything) and then, as the second-act game of cat and mouse began to unspool, things went gradually off the rails. I was kind of formulating a view of the film in my head where the real monster was Detroit, the fact that the city had decayed to this point, and the director's emphasis on the environment and the individual characters as insignificant in it, heroes in their own minds, monsters to each other, acting out little melodramas for....some purpose? was keeping me entertained while Alvarez's clear level of talent with camera placement and building tension was a good distraction. But then the picture kept...escalating. Characters started taking hits that should have messed them up much more than they actually were, as they kept popping up, and the director started to play cute with decision-making abilities in order to prolong the situation. I've read some articles comparing this film to WAIT UNTIL DARK, but by the time people are falling out windows, or taking hammers to the head and getting up in the very next scene, it has just as much in common with HOME ALONE.

And it doesn't know when to end, unfortunately. There's a perfect moment, a bit that feels like it's leading to a genuine sort-of-moral dilemma and a final scene of interest. But then the director cuts away, and we're into a third act that feels unnecessary and kind of offensive (The sequence with the dog and the car is a great balance of goofy and terrifying, yes, but it's totally unnecessary, and the end of it is frustrating in that at this point, Jane Levy's taken more blows to the head than Eric Lindros did during a hockey game back in his heyday) thrashing around until it can get to an awkward 'Final Confrontation'. It's a little satisfying to watch Lang get beat on, but it feels like diminishing returns at that point in the story, and the aforementioned coda (with the TV news) turns any catharsis from it into a dull joke and a bit of a disappointment.

And that's without even getting into the turkey baster.


* I'm not sure why, but by the basement sequence, Lang, with his bushy beard and growls and rampant misogyny brought Mel Gibson of all people to mind. Honestly, I'm not trying to be funny or anything, but it felt like there was a resemblance.

* I'm not an atheist, but if I was, I'd be kind of offended by some of the dialogue once Levy and Lang start talking in the third act. It would have been redeemed for me a bit maybe, if Lang had pulled an Alec Baldwin and growled 'I AM GOD' in that weird croak he was using.

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