Saturday, October 15, 2016

31 Days of Halloween 2016: Don't Breathe

2016, Fede Alvarez (Evil Dead) -- download

Jane Levy, she of Suburgatory redhead fame, returns in Alvarez's next movie. This movie is not quite a horror, but it acts like a horror. With a different score, lighting and attitude it would just be a new Panic Room thriller. But it really latches onto the fear the characters feel which made it a good choice for this season.

Rocky, Money and Alex are low rent burglars breaking into the houses of Detroit's wealthy, stealing a bunch of junk and hocking it. Alex's dad is a security specialist and the kids' trick is to get in via stolen alarm codes, carefully take what they want, and then trigger the alarm after they leave. They are doing OK, but Money wants more money and Rocky needs more money, to escape an abusive mother & boyfriend combo. Alex is just tagging along because he's in love with Rocky. And along comes Money with the "perfect plan".

There is a single house on one of those now classic abandoned streets in Detroit. The owner won a ton of money in a wrongful death suit and has socked it away somewhere inside the house. And the owner is blind. Easy job, right? Of course not, for just as the writing about these kinds of movies is eerily familiar, so is the idea that it will never just be easy. Things have to go wrong.

The fear starts when Money gets caught. And it continues as the kids have to try and escape this house, a house where the Trumpish ideas of protecting property are in play -- he will kill them and not blink a blind eye about it. Just because he is blind, doesn't mean this ex-soldier is at a disadvantage. The fear gets set to 11 when they find someone in the basement that they shouldn't have.

This is a well done, stylishly built horror as thriller; thriller as horror? The monster is a solid brick of a man with a very amoral agenda. The kids are getting killed off, sans the promiscuity. And there is a Final Girl. There is even the haunted house motif, though it is really only haunted with danger.