Review: Don’t Breathe (2016)

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“There is nothing a man cannot do once he accepts the fact that there is no god.”
– The Blind Man

SYNOPSIS: Hoping to walk away with a massive fortune, a trio of thieves break into the house of a blind man who isn’t as helpless as he seems. – via IMDB

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GRADE 8So there was quite a bit of hype surrounding this one. I missed a lot of the hype in my country,  but caught a lot of it online. I decided to give it a look see the other day, and I was pleasantly surprised. As a rule, I am not usually a very big fan of home invasion films. Recently I saw Hush, which was supposed to be excellent because it brought a new spin to the home invasion genre. I liked it okay, but found it quite bland. Don’t Breathe is a different kind of animal.

It has a rather small, limited cast, but this does not detract from the film. Daniel Zovatto might have been the weakest addition to it, but between Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, and Stephen Lang, you are hooked every minute of it. The movie is shot really well, which is something I am starting to expect from Fede Alvarez. It wasn’t overly dark (the images, goodness knows the story got pretty messed up), which is a major flaw in these types of movies, and even when it was totally in the dark, you could see what was going on the whole time. I also thought that the movie maintained really good tension throughout, which is not an easy thing to pull off.

The story is nothing over the top, and the pacing is excellent. You get what you need, when you need it. Don’t Breathe doesn’t rush to blow its payload, but isn’t so slow as to frustrate you. A simple story, sure, but engaging from the off. And I swear, whatever you are thinking when watching this about the door? It doesn’t come close to the twist the movie actually delivers, which is refreshing. And beyond super ick. While the characters are not all likable, they do grow on you, and it doesn’t even take that long. This is definitely a home invasion with a different pattern going for it, and it works. I was really hooked from the off, and the run time is perfect – it never overstays its welcome.

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However, even with all this praise, there were some niggles with it too, and a lot of that has to do with the decisions the characters make and some of the logic that is applied by the characters. Also, the characters are really underdeveloped, and while that is typical for this type of genre, it becomes a bit of an issue when you are supposed to root for the old man, and then the thieves, and back and forth. It’s cool because, for once, there is not one clear, innocent party to root for, but also sucks because knowing more about the characters could have been helpful. Let’s not forget the faulty alarm, multiple gunshots being fired in a neighbourhood and zero interest from the neighbours, or cops.

Don’t Breathe is a well directed little home invasion thriller that is carried by solid performances, an engaging story, and the sheer simplicity of this. I would highly recommend this one, and I can see now why it has so many fans.

I would say skip the trailer and just go in blind (har har), much better experience.

Rapid Review: Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)

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“They know that Michael Myers is her uncle and that she attacked her foster mother, that’s why they fear her, especially on Halloween.”
– Dr Sam Loomis

SYNOPSIS: It is exactly one year later since Michael Myers returned to terrorize his hometown of Haddonfield, and his long-lost niece, Jamie Lloyd. Now, he wants revenge! Young Jamie, who has lost her ability to speak since attacking her foster mother, has developed a telepathic link with her demonic uncle. The ever resourceful Dr. Sam Loomis has realized this, and plans to use it to finally put an end to Michael’s rage. But unbeknownst to them, a stranger has come to Haddonfield, and he is a key factor in the outcome of the madness that has plagued Haddonfield on Halloween for over ten years! – via IMDB

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GRADE 6The Revenge of Michael Myers starts off with Michael Myers, and how he escaped the end ordeal of the last movie, and displays almost instantaneously that Myers really is a force of nature. This dude is unstoppable and single minded, only wanting to exterminate his entire family. I was quite confused as to how Jamie was still fitting in with everyone, then I established she did not kill foster mama last time, but still, the fact that the family is still so supportive is pretty cool. Something I have got to ask why the heck Haddonfield has not banned the sale and wearing of the Michael Myers costume?! It is beyond me, and how these kids are going to get themselves shot at some point. Anyway. Dr Sam Loomis is again painted the crackpot, and while the man might be going a little cuckoo (in his own obsession with Michael), he is also the only one that knows what the heck is going down at any given time, and yet people ignore him. But he’s been right every time?! People, come on! He has a viable track record! I thought the friendship between Jamie and Billy was absolutely adorable, really! I thought that the story for this one was a little bit disjointed, and the flow was not as smooth. I also didn’t find this one to be a particularly chilling or scary entry at all (but that laundry chute scene was great), though it was mindlessly entertaining. Oh, let’s talk about the touching moment between Jamie and Michael later in the movie (Jamie calling him uncle and wanting to wipe away his tears). It was so out of place, but sweet, and then it was just all gone, so fast. Anyway, I thought that the movie was alright, although far weaker than the other movies in this canon. Still decent for a movie night binge though!

Rapid Review: 13 Sins (2014)

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“I will dance with the golden toad.”
– Elliot Brindle

SYNOPSIS: A cryptic phone call sets off a dangerous game of risks for Elliot, a down-on-his luck salesman. The game promises increasing rewards for completing 13 tasks, each more sinister than the last. – via IMDB

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GRADE 7Another movie from the horror box set from mah bestie! This one was chosen randomly to watch by my fiancé, and let me tell you, we were quite impressed (even though it featured both Ron Perlman and Rutina Wesley). What you expect to be a by-the-numbers film actually brings more to the table than one would expect, even if there are times where you just cannot buy into the logic. The characters, too, are not exactly people you are going to warm towards to actually care about, but they do serve the purpose of moving the story along, and they do deliver suitably solid performances. There are a lot of questions that are raised and, unsatisfactorily, not all of them are answered (especially a big one that I really wanted to know about). There was definitely more potential than was tapped into here, but that does not, for one second, mean that this is a hollow film. In fact, it is quite the enjoyable flick with a few funny moments and an intriguing premise. There was definitely potential for more thrills and tension, and while that is not constantly evident, the movie keeps you entertained. I was intrigued by Elliot and his situation, as well as how he was actually going to handle playing this game with some unseen caller. I also liked seeing how he was changing as he was playing the game. There was some fantastic material to explore there, though the movie didn’t focus on that too much, just enough to let you know psychologically the game was affecting him. There were some twists and turns in the plot, too, some which were expected, and others that came as a surprise, so that was nice.  I wish that Pruitt Taylor Vince had been given more screen time, he is an actor I really do enjoy. I don’t think this film has the guts, content, and execution to linger too long after you have watched it, but that does not mean it isn’t worth a look see, especially for a movie night with friends.

Review: The Midnight Meat Train (2008)

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“I’ve got a train to catch.”
– Leon Kaufmann

*MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS* 

So I was super amped for a grand piece of grotesque work. This film was based on a Clive Barker short story of the same title out of his collection Books of Blood. I was excited. He is old school horror. Got all geared up, popcorn, cold drink, candy, the works. I get comfortable, flip out the lights and I begin.

Leon (Bradley Cooper) is a photographer in New York trying to strike the big time. His girlfriend, Maya (Leslie Bibb), waitresses at a local diner. She makes a call to a mutual friend, Jurgis (Roger Bart) to introduce Leon to some of his “artsy” friends. Leon meets a lady who does not really appreciate his work, but recognizes that there is talent, and tells  him to capture the raw innards of the city.

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Unfortunately, this is where Leon’s life is ripped off of its normal little track and irrevocably changed. While hunting for those hard, perfect shots, he get sucked into what becomes a desperate chase for a serial killer, shrouded in crazy deep conspiracies. It drives him mad and consumes him, and the Subway Butcher (Vinnie Jones) becomes his obsession. Leon boards the train one night, and all his ghastly suspicions are confirmed in tenfold, not even he suspected the depth of it all.

Now, this movie was great to a certain degree. I liked the way everything had a waning, washout look to it, and it was all dark and demented, and they got the gore down properly. I was also intrigued of the notion of a butcher murdering at his leisure on a subway train (although I admit, I saw too many holes in this theory). Things were off to a good start, and then it just got insane. For instance, what the hell was the point of a rushed and jumbled ending? Why the heck was the conspiracy about the reptile-people not adequately explained?! I was horrified, and not in the way that I had wanted to be. So much potential just flushed away!

I reckon I can score The Midnight Meat Train 5/10 and still keep a clear conscience. It had a great concept that, unfortunately, was just completely overshadowed by the insanely lame ending. It does not even strike me as so much a horror anymore by the conslusion. I had to Google what the heck happened toward the end, and why he was given the specific mantle of chef, but yeah, it is still not kicking it for me like I had hoped. It had so much potential to be so much more. There was gore, there was blood, there was mystery, there was some creepy aspects and it was all getting along just fine. I thought it was great stuff. But then that ending happened, and brought my whole experience crashing down around me!