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An invasion of inconsistencies

Courtesy of Wikimedia

It can be more or less agreed upon by everyone that 2016 has been a pretty crappy year in general. While most of America is caught up in this year’s election cycle and other hot button issues, Hollywood has been having its own major problems.
This summer, their plan of cranking out unnecessary sequels to movies like “Independence Day” and the Jason Bourne films, as well as average to mediocre reboots of “Ben-Hur” and “Ghostbusters,” finally caught up to them. Accordingly, the 2016 summer blockbuster season saw record low ticket sales for the first time in quite a while. When a terrible flick like “Suicide Squad” can stay in the number one spot for most of August, you know things are looking pretty dire.
However, if you happen to like horror/thriller movies (or are a Frank Ocean fan), man oh man is it a time to be alive! With wide releases like “The Shallows,” “10 Cloverfield Lane” and “The Conjuring 2,” as well as smaller indie gems like “Green Room” and “The Witch,” this year has seen a return to the roots of what made this genre the edge of your seat ride that everyone loves.
Director Fede Alvarez, who put out the surprisingly good “Evil Dead” reboot in 2013, seeks to keep the ball rolling with the small scale and low budget “Don’t Breathe,” but despite a clever set up and interesting set pieces, he fails big time due to a truly tasteless and moronic final act that resembles the antagonist flailing around blindly in the dark.
“Don’t Breathe” follows three twentysomething house burglars consisting of Rocky, a down on her luck mother seeking what’s best for her little girl, the jerky Money, Rocky’s boyfriend who burgles for the rush, and Alex, who has in depth knowledge of home security systems and police response times. As the film progresses, the three break, enter and steal their way through run down homes in Detroit. However, after a disappointing haul, Money ropes Rocky and Alex into breaking into the home of a blind Gulf War vet who recently earned quite a bit from a court settlement after his daughter was killed by a drunk driver. While the two initially are against the idea, they eventually relent, as they want to get the heck out of the hard-knock university that is Detroit.
Sneaking in late one night, the three manage to break in effortlessly, but after the war vet (referred to only as “The Blind Man”) gets woken up by a gunshot, all hell breaks loose. Rocky and Alex soon find themselves trapped in a nightmarish game of cat and mouse with the sole resident, who is much more capable and terrifying than either of them could have imagined.
First off, the overall premise is ingenious, as while there have been plenty of home invasion movies where the residents are the prey; it is pretty sweet to see the tables turned on said invaders. The idea of the “victim” being blind also adds brilliantly to this, as the characters are allowed to snoop around without being caught as long as they keep quiet. While that might sound lame, don’t be fooled: the blind vet is on his own turf, and is able to quickly and effortlessly maneuver around his house if anyone so much as steps on a creaky floorboard.
This muscle memory, plus his deadly skills, makes The Blind Man a very terrifying and real threat, as well as one of the best antagonists in a horror/thriller in recent memory.
However, “Don’t Breathe” almost constantly violates its own title throughout the movie, as the concept is extremely inconsistent. The intruders talk pretty loudly at times with no consequence whatsoever, but in one particular scene, one character barely wheezes in the vicinity of the old man and still gets discovered somehow. The fact that the movie plays very loosely with its own rules and logic makes for some very frustrating scenes.
Despite that complaint, “Don’t Breathe” would have been a pretty competently done film and a decent time at the theater if it ended about twenty minutes earlier than its run time. Unfortunately though, it doesn’t, and what transpired in those last twenty minutes is straight up drivel, and that’s coming from someone who watched “Suicide Squad.” For the sake of spoilers, not everything will be revealed, but the film takes a tasteless and highly unnecessary turn to sexual violence purely for shock value.
As if that wasn’t enough, immediately after this one character literally makes every mistake in what not to do when being chased by a crazy killer, even repeating some of those mistakes again right after they were already proven to be unsuccessful. The worst part about these scenes is that they are completely unnecessary, their only purpose being to awkwardly drag the movie to the hour and a half mark that most other movies run for.
While “Don’t Breathe” has a solid idea and premise that hasn’t been done before, it completely blows away anything positive that it had going for it by the end of the movie, leading to a painfully slow climax that will certainly be in the running for one of the worst endings in the past five years or so. While you might be scared at first, you’ll most likely be laughing by the end, and not in a good way.

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