Skip to main content

Don't Breathe

Fede Alvarez's Don't Breathe was just as simply plotted as the trailers indicated. It didn't pretend to be anything other than advertised. Three burglars, behind a series of thefts involving rich houses with certain security systems and particular locks opened by a set of keys. These three get wind of an Iraq veteran's domicile containing $300K won in a settlement when a wealthy family paid him after their daughter ran over his little girl! Yes, these three are real peaches. And if that wasn't enough the war veteran is blind thanks to a grenade. His primary fault, perhaps given to him so that he has villainous attachments, is harboring the girl who killed his daughter and impregnated her with semen from a turkey baster!

The film does it's due diligence to build credibility and empathy for Jane Levy's Rocky. She comes from a home with a despicable mother (presented as loathsome trash) taking in a no-good loser who joins her in taking advantage of Rocky's burglary activities. Rocky does it all for her little sister, an itty, bitty witness to the ugly side of poverty and unemployment. No father, a mother who considers her kids burdens (Rocky speaks on being locked in a trunk and told she was the one responsible for her mother losing her father), and no prospects of a future in deteriorating Detroit; Rocky is looking for away out.

Her guy is a thug. His nickname, Money, and his game desire to rob a blind war veteran show you his inhumanity and sheer gung-ho willingness to sink to any gutter level to attain financial assistance.  No disrespect to Daniel Zovatto, but I was relieved that his hood was taken care of rather early in the picture. He initiated the robbery, and it was his fault a gun was brought to the house.

Yes, Detroit is not a glamor city where great financial success seems to benefit all classes, from the low, middle, and upper, and where Norman Nordstrom (Stephen Lang) lives, the street and accompanying neighborhoods tell a stone, cold truth about a city's grand decline, a demise that was infiltrated by forces such as unemployment and crime. Norman has a guard dog, the scary, foaming-at-the-mouth, snarling, ferocious-barking kind that strikes an immediate gulp in the throat and emits a strong sense of terror. Norman is similar. He might be blind, but he's built with an imposing physique and the strength he impresses certainly recognize him as not some handicapped weakling who will just give everything up voluntarily because he is someone just ready to be victimized.

Dylan Minnette is the young man with the security services dad which allowed him to target their specific homes. He also has a thing for Rocky. His Alex is conflicted about this house because their burglaries are items not cash. He isn't comfortable with cash. But he caves, as Rocky appeals to him. And good that he does because she would have been in deep shit without him.

The film introduces a gun which used by a feeling-threatened blind war vet in a darkened house can be quite dangerous. The trio reduced to duo when Money outlives the screenplay's usefulness try to get out of the damn house but Norman locks it down really tight. The girl in the basement serving as a surrogate for Norman to receive a replacement for his dead daughter also outlives her usefulness quickly, herself a plot device to either vilify Norman or give him further incentive to kill Rocky and Alex.

The film is about getting out of a sticky situation you put yourself into. Rocky and Alex are ensnared in a trap of their own making. I had a hard time investing. And Rocky getting the fairy tale after breaking into homes illegally, stealing money from a man that derived from settlement after his daughter's death, and getting to go to Cali as the killer doesn't even finger her had me more than a bit conflicted. The turkey baster scene is put there as her out. Norman would've easily been sympathetic and justified in protecting and defending his home from Intruders. But the girl in the basement (given away in advertising, which I found inexplicably dumb) and near impregnation are seemingly included to muddy the waters so we are left to gnaw on who we think should earn our devotion. Ultimately I think no one escapes the film without blood on their hands. Everyone's guilty of something.

There is a modicum of violence, but the director cares little about explicit gore. This is a claustrophobic chase that becomes increasingly difficult due to its darkness and locked doors. Norman with his gun and knowledge of his house serves him well. Loud noise is his kryptonite, though. A disadvantage Rocky uses.