DON’T BREATHE

0

SHOULD I? STATUS: Official Red Flag

Currently in theaters

THE QUICK AND DIRTY DEETS

Don’t Breathe? More like Don’t Bother

Normally I like to watch movies at least twice before I review them, but in this case, you can bet your damn ass there’s no way in hell I’m paying to see Don’t Breathe again. And the first time was a matinee.

When I saw previews for Don’t Breathe, I thought, “Oh cool! Some producer saw Hush and decided to make another movie in the same vein. OK, the main character’s a dude, and instead of being deaf, he’s blind, but what a great idea!” I really enjoyed Hush and was excited to see the “sensory handicapped but kickass defender” plotline extrapolated to the next – well, sense.

I was profoundly disappointed.

First, Don’t Breathe attempts to humanize its main characters, who are the aggressors, with a pseudo-heart-wrenching backstory to justify their choice to live in crime. You know what? If you want to do that, in a movie set in Detroit, then let me honestly ask: why are they all white? Let’s be real here. If you’re an American, you know Detroit is shit. It’s full of vacant houses and the local economy has basically collapsed due to the car industry tanking, and consequently pulling out of the city. It’s also 83% black, which means that the people who are disenfranchised in Detroit are overwhelmingly people of color. Why is the only black person in Don’t Breathe a guy buying coffee in the airport at the end of the film? Serious question here. Please, serious answers. I will give that one of the 4 actors in the movie actually is Costa Rican, but he’s as white as any other. 

Anyway, here’s my point: the ends don’t justify the means, and this attempt to make them do so rings especially hollow in a movie where the “downtrodden aggressors” clearly belong to privileged classes.

Another one of my huge issues with Don’t Breathe is that it’s hugely, overwhelmingly gratuitous. Hush does get pretty violent by the end, cringe-worthily violent, even, but as a whole, I’d say the movie justifies the violence which occurs. After all, at some point in scenarios like these (home invasions; predator and prey), there’s no real way to avoid an eventual physical confrontation. However, Don’t Breathe skips promising opportunities to build psychological terror and therefore, a story that will stick in the audiences’ mind for more than sixty seconds after leaving the theater, and instead leaps to grotesque body shots. There’s simply no mental challenge in this movie whatsoever. I might as well watch a snuff film for what I got out of Don’t Breathe. I don’t know where to find a snuff film, but that’s because I don’t want to.

In sum, I felt as if a producer sat at a table of generic Hollywood movie folx and said “Hey! I’ve got this idea! Home invasion movie, but gone wrong. And here’s a twist! Blind guy.” Then all the people around the table, from behind their sunglasses and bored yawns, said “You know what? Great idea. We love it! But…with what you’ve brought here today…that’s only like, 30 minutes of a movie. How can we twist it to make it even better?” And they pounded their hands on the table and someone stood up and said, “I have an idea!” And they twisted it, gratuitously, for time. Then someone realized that even with that twist, the movie was still only an hour long, so they fuckin twisted it again. And it was finally long enough, and it was GTA-4 levels of gratuitous. None of these decisions served the movie in any way, whatsoever. 

Do not go watch Don’t Breathe. It isn’t worth your money, and it’s certainly not worth your time.

What does it say that I wasn’t surprised at all to see Sam Raimi was one of the producers?

Excuse me now, I have to go watch MURDER PARTY again so I can review it, and get this bad taste out of my mouth.

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DARK FLOORS

1

SHOULD I? STATUS: Meeehhhhh-commend

Available on HBO On Demand

THE QUICK AND DIRTY DEETS

HONEST SUBTITLE: Metal Band Makes a Movie

  • High on CGI, Mystery, Suspense/Tension
  • Low on Plot, Originality, Explanation
  • Scares: 6/10
  • Low-to-moderate jump scares, gore, follow through

THOTS

So, Dark Floors didn’t wow me in the slightest through the first 15 minutes. It seemed both moderately predictable, in the “Dad trying to protect daughter” sort of plot schema (think Liam Neeson; think Silent Hill), and poorly researched. For instance, in one scene, Sarah (the daughter) has to undergo an MRI. Anyone who’s watched any sort of medical TV, let alone been in a hospital, knows what an MRI machine is and looks like, not to mention how it works and what it does. Whelp, in Dark Floors, everyone refers to this machine as some kind of new-fangled, unnamed technology which spontaneously bursts into flames.

When I found out in my research that Dark Floors had been put on by a Finnish metal band, of course this all made more sense. Some parts of the plot exposition suck because, well, the people who made this movie aren’t in the business of regularly making movies.

However, I was intrigued enough by the action which began around 15 minutes in that I decided I did want to review the film, which is why you find me here this morning.

First, the movie is beautifully shot. The metal band clearly had enough in the budget to hire a great director. You can feel tension rise in certain scenes solely as a result of the camera movement and focus, and I really admired that in Dark Floors. I also really enjoyed how the creative director or set co-ordinator, whoever, chose to illustrate the hospital setting’s degeneration into a creepy, haunted alternate universe through efficient, but not heavy-handed, alterations to the existing set.

The movie is essentially a bottle episode, too, which I found interesting. A bottle episode – that’d be an episode of a TV show where everything is shot on one set. Although technically the group of 6 move from floor to floor in the hospital, honestly, I’d be very surprised if it wasn’t the same set every time. I mean, the point of hospital floors is they’re all the same, right?

In these ways, Dark Floors succeeds, even rather surprisingly. However, it falls short when it comes to plot explanation; there’s simply little to no reasoning why Sarah is being pursued by these Viking ghosts. Also, why are the ghosts Vikings? Well, because they’re really the band members in their band costumes, duh! Dark Floors leaves us with an ending that threatens to be ripped straight from Silent Hill but then, in the last instant, isn’t – however, it makes absolutely no sense, either way.

I’ve really got to be honest here, guys. If you want to watch a good movie about a group of people stuck in an alternate reality trying to save a little girl, skip this and watch Silent Hill (it’s one of my favorite horror movies of all time). However, if, like me, you need something to vaguely entertain you while you gorge on a Hawaiian pizza and Monster-and-vodkas on a Sunday afternoon – well, this’ll do it.