Sunday, August 28, 2016

"Don't Breathe"

 0 / 5 

Don't Breathe is squalid, dispiriting, irredeemable.  It is a film -- and I use that term loosely -- that is worthless, even as an attempted exercise in suspense.  It has no style, wit or cleverness.  There is nothing at all to it except the nihilism that it puts forth as a sad and hopeless guiding philosophy.

To illustrate just how hollow and empty this movie is, how devoid it is of any meaningful observation either of humanity or simply of cinematic technique, let me tell you about something that happens toward the end of the movie.  (In some circles, this might count as a "spoiler."  I don't really care.)

As the story nears its end, one character captures another, restrains her, hoists her up in the air, spreads her legs and cuts the fabric of her clothes to expose her sexual organs.  In another part of the room, he has been heating some frozen semen, and now he grabs a turkey baster, fills it with the semen, and prepares to insert it in her as the camera lingers on her terrified, tortured face.

This is what Don't Breathe believes passes for entertainment.  Already we have witnessed the kind of extreme, gruesome violence that frequently fills movie screens, but this is the scene that pushed me over the edge.  I wanted to leave.  I wanted to do more than that, I wanted to walk to the back of the theater, put my hand over the projector and ask the audience why they weren't outraged that they were watching the violent, brutal, graphic rape of a woman being played out for its entertainment value.

It is beyond imagining that a group of people at the motion picture ratings board saw Don't Breathe and felt it was worthy of an R rating.  This is not a film that anyone should be subjected to, especially anyone younger than 17.  That a movie like this can skirt the NC-17 rating is deplorable.  Then again, everything about Don't Breathe is deplorable.

It's a snuff film masquerading as a thriller.  Don't Breathe relishes the sight of people being tortured and dying.  Now, that is not, in and of itself, automatic grounds for disapproval; plenty of good, worthy, even masterful films have depicted horrifying violence.  But Don't Breathe is a graceless film.  It does not even seem to want to try anything technically interesting; it just attempts to find the maximum shock value with the minimum of effort.

The story is about a home-invasion robbery gone horribly wrong.  The three teenagers who plan and execute the robbery do not realize that they are encroaching on the property of a violent, deluded psychopath who happens to be blind.  The fact that he is blind barely factors in to the film; it is simply a device to have one sequence take place entirely in the dark, with the young actors doing their best to channel that Great Actress in the Best Picture Winner About the FBI Agent and the Serial Killer.  (It would be a disservice to name either the actress or the film in the company of this trash.)

Stephen Lang (I'll name him because he should know better) plays The Man.  The movie cares so little about character development that he is never named nor given any sort of personality.  He moves about his house with ease and speed, and only stumbles or aims his gun poorly when it will be to the story's advantage.  His blindness is stupid and offensive, like the movie itself.

Sam Raimi produced Don't Breathe.  He also should know better.  The movie's marketing showcases him as one of the creators of Evil Dead, but many years ago he directed another film about a robbery gone wrong called A Simple Plan, which was taut and tense and twisty and skillful and surprising.

See that film.  But don't see Don't Breathe.

Please, please.


Viewed August 28, 2016 -- ArcLight Sherman Oaks


No comments:

Post a Comment