Monday, November 28, 2016

Don’t Breathe Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
From director Fede Alvarez and the twisted minds behind Evil Dead comes the terrifying, critically acclaimed film, DON’T BREATHE, debuting on digital November 8 and Blu-ray™and DVD November 29 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Hailed as “the best American horror film in twenty years” (Jim Hemphill, FILMMAKER MAGAZINE) and Certified Fresh (87%) on Rotten Tomatoes, the film debuted at #1 at the box office and remained in the top spot for two weekends in a row. Starring Jane Levy (Evil Dead), Dylan Minnette (Goosebumps), Daniel Zovatto (It Follows) and Stephen Lang (Avatar), the film follows a group of thieves who break into a blind man’s home thinking they’ll get away with the perfect crime. When the blind man reveals a dark side, the trio quickly discovers they were dead wrong.
Film (4 out of 5 stars)
Don’t Breathe is the story of three very different criminals working together to rob unsuspecting homeowners.  Alex (Dylan Minnette, Goosebumps) has the connections.  Through his father’s security company he is able to obtain house keys and alarm codes.  Rocky (Jane Levy, Evil Dead) takes care of her little sister, thanks to her unfit (and openly inappropriate) mother.  Rocky is trying to “raise” the money to take her sister to California.  Rocky’s boyfriend Money (Daniel Zovatto, It Follows) is the thug of the group.  He defiles the homes they rob for fun and treats Rocky and Alex poorly.  Alex wants to go to law school, Rocky wants to give her sister a better life and Money wants to get rich.

Alex has done his research, and advises the crew to steal small amounts and never cash. He is thinking ahead, trying to minimize police involvement and jail time if it ever came to that.  The homes they target are always empty and are relatively easy jobs.  An unusual opportunity presents itself when they learn about a blind recluse (Stephen Lang, Avatar) sitting on a six figure settlement.  Besides the fact that he’s blind, the man also makes a good target because the homes on his street are all abandoned.

Although Alex wants nothing to do with the job, he eventually agrees to do it for Rocky and her sister.  When they arrive at the home, they find four locks on the door and Alex only has the key to one of them.   Rocky finds a bathroom window without bars and squeezes through it.  After disabling the alarm, she can let her friends inside.  As they remove their shoes and ransack the house, the blind man sleeps upstairs.  When he wakes, the trio of thieves will learn that the man is strong, capable, and has a dark side they never imagined.

Don’t Breathe turned out to be much better than I expected.  I thought that it would get old watching a couple of kids tiptoe around a blind man.  There’s a lot more to the blind man than anyone guessed and the film offers more than one opportunity to jump out of your seat.  There are a few twists to the story, some you’ll probably guess if you try, and one you’ll never see coming.  For those who really get into a movie, you’ll feel the tension grow.  Don’t Breathe is very well cast.  Two of the thieves are very likable, even though they are committing crimes.  It’s interesting to have a film where there really aren’t any good guys.  Everyone has done bad things and you might find yourself rooting for both sides at different points in the film.  I also enjoyed the way the director used the dark.  He found a creative and effective way to show the dark basement without just going to a black screen.
Video (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Don’t Breathe is presented on Blu-ray in 1080p high definition with a 2.39:1 ratio.  Even with a constantly moving camera, you’ll pick up tremendous amounts of fine detail throughout the interior and exterior of the blind man’s home. Black levels are good and you can never have trouble discerning what’s going on, even in the darkest circumstances.
Audio (4 out of 5 stars)
Don’t Breathe’s  1080p with DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround sound is well balanced overall.  Instead of a traditional score, they opted for sounds from homemade instruments.  These sounds heighten the tension and can easily fill your living room.   Creaking floorboards and footsteps play an important role in the film.  Dialogue is intelligible when spoken, shouted and most importantly for this film, when whispered.  
Extras (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Don’t Breathe contains the following supplemental features on the single disc Blu-ray:
  • Audio Commentary – Feature length audio commentary with Writer/Director Fede Alvarez, Writer Rodo Sayagues and Actor Stephen Lang. This is your typical discussion of character development, stunt work, locations, shooting, inspiration and more. Stephen Lang asks Alvarez questions a lot (instead of just adding his own anecdotes) and Alvarez can be a bit hard to understand at times. Still, I found this to be an interesting, worthwhile commentary.
  • No Escape – A behind the scenes look at the filming process with an emphasis on the look of the movie. Contains cast and crew interviews.
  • Man in the Dark – Actor Stephen Lang explains his character’s history, motivation and capabilities. Cast and Crew comment on Lang’s on set presence and being scared at times while filming.
  • Meet the Cast – A look at the characters Rocky, Alex, Money and the Blind Man and what drives each of them.
  • Creating the Creepy House – Stephen Lang introduces the “hard to get into, even harder to get out of “house, which is the primary location for the film. Production Designer Naaman Marshall provides a detailed tour of the elements that make it so creepy.
  • The Sounds of Horror – Feature Composer Roque Banos explains his desire to have the music feel like it was coming from the environment with homemade instruments and unsettling sounds.
  • Deleted Scenes – Available with optional Director commentary and a play all feature:
    • A Blind Man Gardening
    • The Ladybug Song
    • Father and Son
    • Diner Dancing
    • Only a Father Understands
    • Alex calls Dad
    • There is no God
    • Rocky Kisses Alex
  •  Previews
    • Edge of Winter
    • Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV
    • The Shallows
    • Money Monster
    • When the Bough Breaks
    • The Bronze
Summary (4 out of 5 stars)
Don’t Breathe is more thriller than horror, and I’m okay with that. Those looking for a traditional horror movie might be disappointed. Even though it is a thriller it is not without bloody violence.  It’s creepy from start to finish and contains a more detailed story than I had anticipated. While we don’t learn a lot about the thieves, the Blind Man has many secrets. All parties are victims and perpetrators and that makes for an interesting story. The small cast handles the weight of the film and the Blu-ray contains very good audio and video quality to support the action. The special features scratch the surface of the behind the scenes action and this is a film I will watch again, even knowing all the plot twists.

Order your copy today!

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