By Blake Nelson
Pretend that it is the mid-2000s again. A relatively peaceful time, not filled with big-budget superhero movies but rather small budget horror movies, usually remakes of older films.
“Don’t Breathe” is a film that would have fit in snugly around, say, 2006. Thinking back to that era of film, specifically horror, can anyone remember a great horror film from that era? Of course, there are some that you’ll remember such as “Paranormal Activity,” and there are some that were scary like “The Ring,” but none were truly great.
“Don’t Breathe” is largely forgettable. There’s the standard subpar acting, the easy setup and the unlikable characters, not to mention a healthy dose of plot holes.
This is all too bad because Sam Raimi, the creator of the hands-down classic “Evil Dead” trilogy, slapped his name on it.
The director and co-writer, Fede Alvarez, previously directed the “Evil Dead” remake of 2013, which received mixed reviews. Alvarez is fairly new to the directing game, but he started off at a breakneck speed by signing on to remake a horror classic. So maybe because of all the hype, my expectations were a little elevated going in.
I’m not saying the movie was bad; it had its moments. I liked the simple plot and setting, both of which harken back to some low-budget gems from the ‘70s. I also really loved the single tracking shot through the house that really gave you a feel of the setting early on.
But as stated before, the acting was lame and at times so bad it was funny, like when Stephen Lang’s character, comically named “The Blind Man,” awkwardly sniffs the air like a dog.
The setup was lazy, and it would have made a better movie if there was none. If none of the boring and heavy-handed exposition had happened, the viewer could have spent more time in the house and possibly sealed up some of the plot holes. Maybe I could have liked some of the characters better without knowing their generic backstories and motivations.
The gimmick of this movie is that the thieves break in to this blind man’s house and are subsequently forced to experience zero light, kind of like being blind. Maybe this is somewhat original, but we have maybe five minutes of it. The whole ad campaign was centered around this scene, and then they go and pull the old bait and switch.
And what was it switched with? Well, I don’t want to spoil the twist or the ending but, I’ll say it involves the lewd use of a turkey baster.
I don’t want to give Alvarez a hard time here, but I also don’t want to praise second-rate work. The film isn’t bad; it just feels like that gray area of my memory where Dane Cook was good comedy and “Garden State” was my favorite movie.
I hope that Alvarez’s next outing at the cinema involves better writing choices and less turkey baster.
Blake Nelson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @b_e_nelson.