'Don't Breathe' is brought to us by 'Evil Dead' reboot director, Fede Alvarez. Some may recall that I put that particular reboot among my Screening Suggestions, so needless to say, I was already a fan of this relative newcomer. This was his next big title, and I gotta say, it was pretty solid.
The story centers on three young thieves; Rocky (Jane Levy), Alex (Dylan Minnette), and Money (Daniel Zovatto). The trio makes their way by burglarizing neighborhood houses, secured by Alex's father's company, and selling the stolen goods.
So as to portray these people as "not all bad", we are shown that Rocky lives with an abusive mother and her alcoholic boyfriend. She has a tight bond with her little sister, Diddy (Emma Bercovici), and makes a deal with her to move to California, and escape their situation. However, when a deal goes raw, Rocky doesn't get the money she needs to help her and her sister out.
Money gets a tip that there's a Special Forces veteran's house worth the risk, for $300k. The catch is that they decide to do the job while this man's still at home, due to him being blind. The man is portrayed by Stephen Lang, who most would probably remember as that hard-ass Colonel from 'Avatar', and he actually gives a hell of a performance here. There is something about his delivery that's just downright disturbing, and he proves his range can extend beyond that of Colonel Miles Quaritch.
The film offers a twist perspective on the Home Invasion subgenre of horror that hosts such titles as 'The Purge', 'Panic Room' and 'The Strangers'. It was never necessarily a thing I got into, because it all felt essentially the same. This movie, however, twists it around, making the heroes of the story the home invaders, and making the guy defending his house the bad guy - and oh yes, he defends his house relentlessly, shooting at anything he hears, hence the title 'Don't Breathe'.
The other thing to really hand to this film is that it's overall kinda realistic. The real horror here comes from what seems to be a political statement about gun control, and the fact that everyone seems to need to have a firearm under their pillow. This manages to show the dangers of allowing firearms to be in the hands an individual who is clearly unstable. And the fact that Rocky's trying to escape a Hellish household situation as well as rescue her sister allows us some major leeway to see that this is something she feels she needs to do. It's not just a thrill for her, and she's far less disposable because of that.
I have to say that I was impressed, overall. It didn't entirely "wow" me, but it has enough going for it with its simple twist of an idea, likable characters, a rather creepy villain and its overall intensity, that I can recommend this to anyone looking for a recent, decent thriller. I quite enjoyed it, for myself.
This one isn't exactly what you'd call a "Halloween" title, but there's an air of mystery and thrill, and I thought it might be in the same vein, at least. Anyway, regardless, here we are with 'Bad Times at the El Royale' - a film that floated under many radars, despite its wide theatrical release. It even debuted at #7 for its opening weekend, according to the Box Office Top 10. However, despite mostly positive reviews, it simply didn't take off because too many people were busy, at the time, arguing about whether or not 'Venom' was any good.
This one kinda revisits the bottle mystery sub-genre; movies along the same lines as something like 'Clue', or to match this particular title a bit closer, 'Hateful Eight', as I actually found it to be rather Tarantino-esque in overall style. This one comes from Director Drew Goddard, who's most notable directorial film is 'The Cabin in the Woods' - a movie you either love, hate, or love to hate (I love). This is a step away from that style and, as I say, a bit more Tarantino-esque (maybe that was just me, but I stand by it).
The overall plot sees a group of characters come together by chance at the run down El Royale - a hotel with the border of Colorado and Nevada running through it, and a dark history. Each character - a priest (Jeff Bridges), a singer (Cynthia Erivo), a vacuum salesman (Jon Hamm), a hippie (Dakota Johnson) and the hotel's only worker (Lewis Pullman) all have checkered pasts of their own. Before the night is through, true colours are exposed after the arrival of Rose Summerspring (Cailee Spaeny) and her manipulative love-interest, Billy Lee (Chris Hemsworth's Abs).
All in all, this is one of those times where I don't fully know what to make of a film. I'd have to say it was enjoyable, but by the end of it all, I kinda just wanted to rewatch it with familiar eyes. It's one of those movies that goes back and forth according to different character perspectives, and it's easy for a dude like me to lose track of exactly what's going on sometimes when a movie does this.
With that said, however, we had great performances, atmosphere, and intensity, so the film did a good enough job with its overall execution. So, the jumping around aspect of it really was my only major problem. I tend to find this can be fixed with multiple viewings, so odds are, I'll wanna check it out again at some point down the line. But really, it's still one of 2018's lesser titles, despite all it has working for it. I think if it's given some time once its released on DVD and Blu-ray, it has the potential to be a cult hit, but until then, it kinda stands as an enigma to me.
Somehow it manages to be good but forgettable all at once. Maybe it's because we've seen this kind of thing before. Maybe it was other titles at the time drowning it out. Maybe it's all the jumping around between time and characters. All I know is that I can't recommend or not recommend this movie to anyone for any reason. It's just kinda there. We'll see what happens, but I suspect this one will suffer for a while until the right audience discovers it and wonders if it was ever released in theaters.