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BELATED NEW HORROR FLICK REVIEW OF: DON'T BREATHE

Jane Levy on the DON'T BREATHE Poster YEAR: 2016
"An impressive performance or achievement that has been accomplished or managed with great skill" is the definition of a term, Tour de force, that, albeit overused in Film Writing, when hybrid with a "special honor or respect shown publicly" i.e. Homage, the new horror flick DON'T BREATHE is a Tour de Homage, and then some...

Our first glance at the ruthless antagonist, a blind war veteran played by Stephen Lang (who represented all that Hollywood perceives as evil about the American Military in AVATAR), sitting upon his bed, reaching his muscular arms forward with what seems like frightened vulnerability of a child spooked from an imaginary closet monster – and the ride's about to begin...

Stephen Lang rocks
Beforehand, it takes about fifteen-minutes to suffer through three teenage criminals spouting awful dialogue: The goading Alpha Male calling the nice Beta Boy "Judge Judy," because of a partially lawful conscience, is downright ludicrous... But right off the bat it's Jane Levy as Rocky, an already world-weary, over-experienced tomboy who, despite living in a dilapidated apartment with her sleazy mom and precious little sister, has all the makings of a street urchin and really, truly needs something: So it takes her jerk boyfriend, fitfully nicknamed "Money," to lead the robbery of a house that could hold a lot of cash while the guilty kid, Alex, with an immense yet silent crush on the tough chick, ironically wields the most important key – his father owns that home's security company, thus providing a relatively failsafe way inside...

Lang's Cinematic Launch... Where is He?
Well that's all the important expository stuff, fully-loaded up front to get out of the way and, soon enough that muscular blind guy turns tables wherein DON'T BREATHE doesn't let up, moving in a rapid-fire, machine-gun pace but, like the titular device explains how they must survive, the quieter the "good guys" are, the better – especially our headstrong ingenue, determined to leave with the loot (or better put, not leave without it): Adding a Noir element blanketing a relentless exploitation flick that has a different kind of "sole surviving ingenue" (which doesn't mean she's the only person who remains alive, but she fits into this category as the main character the killer wants most): Despite being almost as crooked as Lang's "The Blind Man"... resembling a vintage GI Joe action figure after years of mental torture combined with Dos Equis's Most Interesting Man in the World and a frost-bearded Jean-Claude Van Damme... she's scared out of her wits – after all, who wouldn't be?

GRADE: A
Lang's persistent villain is one of the most effective horror heavies in the last decade, or longer – his handicap makes him more alert, wily and resilient – basically, if he did have sight, the house-invaders wouldn't have had any chance at all: a blind snake but not a toothless one, his performance is also initially sympathetic. Perhaps if he didn't have so many bullets in his gun(s), there'd be more Old School Suspense. After a while the Horror template morphs into full-blown Action in which Lang, from the 1980's BAND OF THE HAND to a 1990's Steven Seagal vehicle and many others, is well suited for – but a firearm is too conventional and easy compared to the man's own formidable strength. Meanwhile, the Hunted are both doomed and determined, and frightened enough to care about, which makes Lang's violent drive a nail-biting visual "page-turner..."

And while it doesn't quite know when it's time to... finally... end, putting the audience through too much of a ringer as what begins a "haunted house" movie if written by John Rambo has eventual traces of CUJO; the "feeling-through a darkened room" terror of SILENCE OF THE LAMBS; and over-the-top modern Rob Zombie style 70's-Nostalgia bloodshed that... well... basically... BREATHE may just exist to provide – in the age of typical CGI monstrosities – a non-specter, character-driven, hands-on nightmare for the big screen while not sparing even those genre-buffs who think they've seen (experienced) it all.
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