“DON’T BREATHE”: A Review
Would you not hold your breath if breathing may lead to your death?
It appeared to be just an ordinary home invasion movie in the first 26 minutes. That much time was used for the “exposition.” There are movies that took lesser time to introduce the characters and to establish their motives. But once the rising action started on the 27:11 mark, when the deceptively helpless blind man asked “Who’s there?,” it became difficult for me to leave my seat. From there, the roller coaster ride begins with the switchback going in no other direction but up with lots of twists and turns.
The source of the conflict is clearly “man against man.” But it’s not a predictable struggle between two opposing forces. It’s not the usual good against bad stuff for neither of the sides is good. Rocky, Money and Alex are thieves. What about the blind man?
The blind man, a military veteran living alone in an abandoned neighborhood, is about to be a victim of the trio targeting the money he received as a settlement after his child died in a reckless driving incident. So one would think that the blind man plays the role of the victim. But wait, the thieves would end up getting victimized by their victim. The blind man was supposed to be helpless (being blind) but his military experience gives the viewers a perception that he has special skills. What gives him a distinct advantage in the struggle, aside from the gun in his hand, is his familiarity of the nooks and crannies of his house.
Will Rocky, Money and Alex succeed in getting the blind man’s money and come of the house alive?
A portent of the horror that the young thieves are about to experience came when the Rottweiler, which turned out to be owned by the blind war veteran, came charging at them while they were on a car spying on the house that they were about to burglarize. Luckily, the windows of the car were up.
Rocky witnessed helplessly how Money was killed by the blind man and how he sealed his doors and windows to ensure that no one else would enter (and get out of) his house.
In the basement, when Rocky and Alex were trying to find a way out of the house, they discovered that actually the blind man kidnapped and impregnated Cindy, the young woman who drove the car that killed the military veteran’s child.
Accidentally that the blind man killed Cindy when some of the shots he fired missed Alex and Rocky and hit her instead.
The movie succeeded in making me glued to my seat… on its edge to be exact. I postponed peeing until I saw the final credits rolling. The scriptwriter did a masterful job in building up the conflict leading to the crisis. The most difficult thing to do in a movie is to maintain constant tension in a limited setting like a house. I gave the movie a passing grade in this department.
This, however, is far from being a perfect movie. There are a number of loopholes.
No! It’s not how on earth did the blind man not hear the barking of his dog when the thieves arrived. I was wondering why too. But when Money opened the living room there I found the answer: He was fast asleep, the windows are tightly closed, and the TV was on.
Here is one of the loopholes… Rocky and Money are lovers yet in no part of the movie you can sense that the two are in love. What was more obvious was Alex likes Rocky.
What about this?…How could the BLIND man have succeeded in kidnapping Cindy? Unless he has an accomplice. There’s no narrative in the movie that explains this.
Another one…The opening scene, where the blind man could be seen dragging a bloodied Rocky, could be considered a spoiler of some sort. Having that in mind, as the action progresses, it gives the viewers an impression that the movie would end up with the blind man coming out victorious in the struggle.
From that scene, the movie proceeds to flashback.
I think that that scene gives some anticlimactic effects to that exciting sequence where Rocky succeeded in luring the Rottweiler into the car and had the dog locked up inside. It allowed me to correctly guess that when Rocky was standing about to celebrate her freedom the camera would roll in an angle where the blind man will been seen coming to grab Rocky from behind…and that, exactly, happened.
That’s the end of the flashback…but not the end of the movie yet. There are 5 more minutes left after that.
I tried to guess what would happen after the blind man recaptured Rocky. I thought that that was it…the blind man getting Rocky back is already the climax. It turned to be just the beginning of the end. Rocky being brought back to the house would only pave the way for an exciting ending.
Rocky was lying on the floor helpless and defenseless against the blind man. Then a “deus ex machina” seemed to have appeared…an insect, the ladybug.
I recalled seeing a ladybug in the movie once in the beginning and again at that instance toward the end. Rocky also had a tattoo of the insect in her left wrist. She also mentioned in her narrative about her childhood how the ladybug made her feel safe. With both Money and Alex dead, seeing the ladybug again in her most difficult situation, brought courage back to her. She made the alarm sound to confuse the blind man and repeatedly hit him with a crowbar.
The climax came at exactly the 1:20:43 mark. The blind man, after taking a series of blows to the head fell to the basement.
Rocky came out of the house alive and with the blind man’s money. The movie ended with Rocky and her sister leaving Detroit for California.
The blind man did not die.
Showing that the blind man survived the repeated blows on his head and him falling to the basement is for me unnecessary. Unless the director wants the viewers to formulate their own endings or a sequel is being planned.