Sunday, 20 November 2016

THE LEIGH SPENCE MOMENT: DON’T BREATHE


13. “Now you’re gonna see what I see.”



20/11/2016




Now I have written about a few horror films, I didn’t see any issue with entering such a film with no preconceptions of what I was about to watch, knowing there was a chance I might enjoy it more than I would otherwise have.

This was definitely the case with “Don’t Breathe,” directed by Fede Alvarez, which was released earlier in 2016. I now know this is Alvarez’s second film, after directing the remake / reboot of the “Evil Dead” franchise. With Sam Raimi continuing on this new film as producer, there was reason to expect a good film here.

What I was happiest about was the use of suspense in a horror film, rather than just scaring people for a few seconds at a time. In the character of “The Blind Man,” played by Stephen Lang, we have a character that was to be the victim, having money stolen from his home, but his skewed idea of what vengeance is allowed to mean, plus his past as a soldier, unleashes an unpredictable path of escape for the would-be thieves.

When the comic book character “Daredevil” is the first blind character in fiction that comes to mind, you prepare yourself for the use of sound found in this film – the merest squeak of noise could attract the wrong attention, but silence could save your life when your possible killer is right in front of you.


Any sympathy for the Blind Man is gone when one thief comes across his hostage, who killed his daughter in a car accident. That the Blind Man, following the hostage’s death, considers the female thief to be a like-for-like replacement as a vessel to give birth to a new daughter for him, is an extreme source of motivation for a horror film character, but such is the history of the basement in American cinema, for that which must be hidden, or as a place for the worst of atrocities, second only to “the woods,” that the film gets away with it.

I have only been sparing in details, because it would be better if you saw it. It is easy to call a film “Hitchcockian” when it successfully engages the audience using a narrative of suspense, but when the story runs like clockwork, and keeps your attention throughout, then we have reason to use the word. “Don’t Breathe” is unsparing in its use of blood and gore, rather than using a jump scare to look away, which helped it to become the most successful R-rated film in the US for three years, knocking “Suicide Squad” off the number one spot in the US box office chart. There will also be a sequel, focusing on the Blind Man.

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