Film: Don’t Breathe
Directed by: Fede Alvarez
Starring: Jane Levy, Stephen Lang, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto
Plot: Three juvenile thieves break into a blind Army veteran’s home in an attempt to rob him, only to find out that he is more terrifyingly handi-“capable” than they thought.
Verdict on Viewing Worthiness: See more than once!
(I may divide this article into multiple sections, depending on how much is written)
This is one heck of a thrilling film that doesn’t involve supernatural elements or science fiction. It contains jump scares that have shock value and suspenseful moments that keep you on edge, making you wonder what’s going to happen next, especially to a character in a given scene. It doesn’t waste time with cheap thrills (well, maybe a few jump scares with the dog), but keeps things relevant to the plot, which, to the protagonists, seemed rather simple initially.
Roxanne, a.k.a. Rocky (Levy), Alex (Minnette), and Money (Zovatto) are three delinquents in Detroit who rob homes that have alarm systems installed under the security company that employs Alex’s father. Hence, Alex is able to acquire the keys to access the houses they break into. They hope to acquire enough money so that they can leave Detroit and move to California. Rocky’s reason for leaving is more personal: to move away with her little sister and leave their neglectful mother. An opportunity for a heist to end all heists arises when they are tipped of an Army veteran (Lang) who was blinded in a combat tour and who was provided a huge cash settlement from a wealthy family whose daughter killed his in a car accident. It just so happens also that the retired soldier’s home’s security system is registered to Alex’s father’s company.
At one point, Money tries to fend off a possible guilt trip from Alex on robbing a visually handicapped man with the retort: “Just because he’s blind don’t make him a f***in’ saint, bro!” How very true the movie proves that statement to be later in the story! They plan to break in early morning (2 AM, if I remember correctly) in hopes that the man will be asleep at the time. Although they make it in and manage to unlock a locked door which is presumed to contain (hint, hint) the cash they are after, the Army vet is woken, and all hell breaks loose between the would-be robbers and the visually impaired homeowner.
***Presuming you have seen and know what happens in the movie, feel free to read on…
(BTW: If there are a few things that this movie has in common with another low-budget film titled It Follows, it’s the casting of Zovatto and the setting of Detroit for the story. In that film, Zovatto portrays a man who, after having sex with a female protagonist, is killed by a sexually transmitted demon appearing in the form of his mother, but that’s another story, of course. So in short, both his characters are killed in Detroit, haha. Plus, do these movies have something against The Motor City?)
Levy carries the weight in this film as the female protagonist who feels compelled to complete this heist to provide for her little sister. We even see Rocky refuse to back down when one of her male accomplices addresses some risks and suggests twice not to carry through with the robbery. Her goal is clear-cut, and her dilemma is the so-what behind the urge for the trio to succeed in this whole thing. After all, if you had a little sibling whom you wanted a better life for, wouldn’t you have some sympathy?
Minnette’s Alex is somewhat of a conscientious, tech-savvy guy (the geek among the trio) who has a bit of a crush on Rocky. He apparently knows how alarm systems work enough to disarm them. As stated before, his father works for the security company that installs the systems of their burglarized homes, which gives him access to an array of keys and remote alarm disabling technology.
Zovatto as Money is Rocky’s reckless, foul-mouthed boyfriend (how are they together, btw); he resembles a gang-banger who may as well be doing this as part of an initiation into a street gang. Then again, if I’ve never been in a gang, what do I know? He tends to act like a d**k to Alex apparently, considering the latter’s geekiness and some of the words exchanged between the two. Considering his name, he also has a dollar sign tattoo on his neck, which seems a bit on the nose, don’t you think? Or did he get the tattoo first and then adopt ‘Money’ as a nickname? Is his character symbolic of reckless greed? Of the three of them, he felt the most deserving of his fate, am I right?
Here is one of the best scenes due to its suspensefulness, which you’re probably familiar with from the trailer and having watched the movie: Money is shot dead while trying to hold off the man at gunpoint in order to buy time and cover for Rocky. While the man is dragging away Money’s dead body, the other two try to back away slowly to avoid being too close. But Alex takes a step on part of the bare wooden floorboard which makes a creaking sound. Hearing this, the man stops what he’s doing, raises the gun, and points it across the room scanning in Alex and Rocky’s general direction. He lowers it, seemingly convinced that no one is there, but then when Money’s cell phone vibrates on the floor, he quickly aims for where the sound is coming from and fires a round.
Perhaps what makes for much of the suspense is the man’s blindness, which gives the two remaining protagonists (and later to be just one) barely an edge for a chance to survive. Imagine if his eyesight were normal; the three teens would probably long be dead, and that wouldn’t make for as much of a thrilling story, would it?
To be continued…