Film: DON’T BREATHE

Dont-Breathe-Poster#1 movie, weekend of 8/26-8/28/16

Gross: $117,178,157

What it is: A horror movie about a trio of teen burglars who break into the home of a blind veteran, only to find that he’s actually very dangerous and is hiding a dark secret. So like Wait Until Dark but reversed.

I’m a horror movie fan (even used to run a horror movie screening series!), so I get a kind of tribal kick out of seeing one hit the top of the charts. With the Halloween season coming up, Don’t Breathe will probably be the first of several to do so throughout the next couple months. Cool! Go team!

I wasn’t crazy about director Fede Alvarez’s 2013 Evil Dead remake, but this is a more satisfying movie. Like most buzzed-about filmmakers (or maybe most filmmakers generally), Alvarez’s interests are weighted heavily towards style over substance. The story here is mostly a bundle of cliches: The nice guy who pines for the girl who’s with the bad boy, the veteran who turns out to be a fucked up psychopath, Detroit as a hollowed-out shell of poverty (a trope that’s now reminiscent of 2014’s It Follows, which also milked the Motor City for eerie atmosphere), etc. But the movie isn’t intended to deliver plot so much as a series of roller-coaster suspense sequences in which the protagonists have to evade the vet and navigate his labyrinthine house, and these sequences generally work pretty well.

Maybe the most notable thing about this film is that it’s one of very few mainstream horror movies I can think of in which the villain’s primary weapon is a gun.* I don’t know why the genre has avoided firearms for so long, if it’s because they seem like too realistic of a threat to be scary in a “fun” way or because they’re just so effective effectively deadly that the heroes/victims would never seem to have a chance, in which case the fact that this killer is blind would explain why an exception is being made here. Either way, maybe adopting guns as a horror staple could counteract their usual glamorization in pop culture. Or maybe we’ll all just become even more desensitized, I don’t know.

*Although the turkey baster is of course more memorable.

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