What a year for the horror genre it has been. The year started off great with the Sundance 2015 selection The Witch finally being released, and only got better when out of nowhere the world learned it was getting a horror-centric Cloverfield sequel. The summer gave us the solid, though inferior sequel to The Conjuring, the ridiculously fun, shark-filled The Shallows and the surprisingly modest hit Lights Out. During my viewing of The Shallows, I caught the trailer for Don't Breathe and was instantly wowed. I'd never heard of this horror flick that reteams the Evil Dead remake director Fede Alvarez with his star Jane Levy. Like the first Conjuring film, the trailer for Don't Breathe highlighted a specific scene and absolutely terrified me. As soon as I saw that trailer, Don't Breathe instantly jumped to my most anticipated films list. So with all those expectations, did the film disappoint? I'm happy to report that Don't Breathe absolutely did not disappoint. This non-stop horrific ride instantly became one of my favorite movies of the year. It thrilled me and awed me all at the same time.
Don't Breathe is all about three kids who like to commit burglaries in their spare time. The leader is kind of a cookie cutter thug named Money (easily the weakest point of the movie) who has influenced his troubled, wrong side of the tracks girlfriend Rocky (Jane Levy) to take part in stealing from rich people. Rocky steals in hopes that she can somehow obtain a better life for her and her sister. They wouldn't get too far though without her friendzoned buddy, Alex, whose father's job puts them into easy access to spare house keys and remote controls to silence home alarms. As a final heist, they decide to rob an old blind man, who recently won a huge settlement and supposedly keeps all his money in a vault inside his house. If they can just do this job, they'll never have to steal again. As expected in a horror film, things don't go quite as planned and the audience is taken on this ride that does not let up.
For the type of movie it's trying to be, Don't Breathe is almost absolutely perfect. Dare I say the "masterpiece" word?? The only flaws that really stood out were that the characters could have been fleshed out a little more. Usually, that's a bigger gripe for me, but the amount of time that this movie holds your attention non-stop, it's an easy thing to forgive here. Money was awful, as was his dialogue. His lines can be cringeworthy, but you don't really have to deal with too many of them once everything is all said and done. Jane Levy, once again excels in the horror movie "final girl-type" role, though Goosebump's Dylan Minnette certainly tries to steal the title with his performance on more than one occasion. I would have loved a couple more moments between them before all the action started, but once it does it's really hard to complain about anything because everything is so well done. The camera work in discovering this house was so wonderful, I'd always be a second away from commenting on how masterful the film was and then gripping my chair a moment later because something horrible was happening. Honestly, this is the horror genre at its absolute best. The way it should be. EMILY RATING: 9.5
THE BAD: Some of these characters are completely throwaway. I'm looking at you Killer Croc with your horrible one liners. And one liners in general grated on me where you get the sense they were told to try to copy the Marvel formula. No DC! Do your own thing I beg of you!! That style competed with the movie the whole time where you just can sense that a darker movie was hiding under the surface that was probably the filmmakers' true vision. Unfortunately what we got was somewhere in between with emphasis from studio execs to try to be crowd pleasing. One final thing to add to this category would be that I wasn't really into Cara Delevigne's villain and as mentioned before didn't get to see nearly enough of Jared Leto's joker to decide how I felt about him. Obviously, you don't walk out of this movie feeling about him the way you did when you first saw Heath Ledger's take on the character.
FINAL VERDICT: Suicide Squad is flawed, but still enjoyable. My expectations were just a little too high. EMILY RATING: 6/10