Tag Archive | thriller

Don’t Breathe Will Leave You Gasping for Air

 

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Took two of my teens to see the new thriller Don’t Breathe today and lemme just tell y’all, it was not what I expected. Even though I tried to go into the movie with zero expectations (all I knew was what I’d seen in the original trailer; I read no reviews and none of my immediate circle had seen it yet), I knew that Sam Raimi was a producer and I didn’t expect him to sign off on a piece of crap. So, while I knew the initial premise — three young adults decide to rob a blind guy in his own home — I went in expecting an average suspense. And then, I got the wind knocked outta me.

from gamesradar

Close quarters make for some very powerful dread.

Formula First

Roughly five minutes of set-up was all it took to make Rocky (very deftly portrayed by the cherub-faced girl-next-door, Jane Levy) the criminal you’re rootin’ for, due to the stock set-up. We’re not lookin’ at deep character development here, Friends, but that’s okay because Levy was aptly supported by her co-star Dylan Minnette who played her platonic, moon-eyed friend Alex. Daniel Zovatto, who played Money, gave us enough spot-on machismo to quickly decipher the fact that “ah, here’s the asshole boyfriend everyone wants to see get it.”

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Minnette and Levy give their most thrilling performances when they don’t have to rely on dialogue.

Going in, I couldn’t quite imagine a hunk like Stephen Lang being too thoroughly icky as The Blind Man. Menacing? Yes. Scary as hell? Yes. But gross? I was surprised what blinding Lang’s baby blues and slathering him with grime and sweat, and costuming him in a blood-stained wife-beater could do. In such close quarters, the viewers could almost smell his grime and rage. Nods to the costuming and lighting departments for the former, but all of the menace and rage should be squarely placed on the shoulders of Lang’s years of theater performances.

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It gets truly intense when Lang’s Blind Man levels the playing field.

Brace Yourself

After 10 Cloverfield Lane, I was a bit skeptical that writer/director Fede Alvarez was going to be able to keep us glued to our seats, but he did it. This gripping twist on the current Home Invasion trend delivers all the nerve-wracking anxiety, claustrophobia, and suspense a thrill seeker could hope for.

As I said, this isn’t a deep character study. This is an action-packed thriller with lots of long silent (and terrifying) silences. The momentum depends almost exclusively on the character’s action — or inaction, if you will. With so few principle characters and the limited space of a single family dwelling, it’s easy to wonder how the action and angst can be sustained. Don’t worry. This home-owner may be blind, but he knows his own home like the back of his hand. It’s believable when he appears everywhere and nowhere at any given moment. And, when he cuts the lights, those poor kids don’t stand a chance. There’s nothin’ as gratifying as a fair fight. Is there?

Before the crew of hopeful home invaders decide to execute their plan, Alex wonders whether or not robbing a blind man might be a skeevy move. Well, in hindsight I would advise, “Hey, you prolly shouldn’t disturb this guy. He’s disturbed enough.”

 

Everything Old is New Again: A Review of It Follows

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Drop this enigmatic little thriller in any 70s or 80s creepfest and not only will its score feel right at home, but the budget and the story-line are likely to as well. The genius of It Follows is in David Robert Mitchell’s ability to take every (and I do mean every) horror cliche taught in the proverbial Scary Movies 101 class and amplify them with enough pure dread that completing this film is akin to taking a master’s class at the University of Psychological Thrillers.

Where the hell did this young pup (Mitchell) come from anyway? And, why have I never heard of him before? He obviously digested ample late-night horror shows as a kid because his knack for cloak-and-dagger paced suspense is remarkable. This is one talented writer/director, Folks. I suspect he is what you’d get if you magically mated John Carpenter and John Hughes. Carpenter for obvious reasons and Hughes for his innate ability to treat his young characters with dignity and a genuine respect for their very real world angst.

David Robert Mitchell

David Robert Mitchell

Prepare to push past the well-worn “Casual Sex leads to Death and Despair” surface and tread into the deeper, more cerebral, waters of the story. It Follows packs plenty of profound notions and shrewd foreshadowing that astute observers may catch the first time around. Childhood fears of water, the woods, abandoned buildings, being home alone, being followed, and the complete unknown morph into adult fears of growing old, being alone, disease, death … and, well, the complete unknown. “It” appears to be cryptic, but the undeniable dangers of reaching out for forbidden fruit resonates clearly throughout this shudder-producing film.

Caveat for fellow Horror fans: If you’re looking for scores of gore, slasherporn, and jump-out-of-your-seat scares, you best mosey on along. Blood, full frontal nudity, and Night of the Living Dead (1968) dread all receive adequate screen time, but the main focus is on the tension and anxiety you experience following Jay (deftly portrayed by Maika Monroe) and her small circle of loyal friends. I guarantee you’ll be watching the edges of your screen.

Photo by Chelsea Lauren - © 2015 Chelsea Lauren - Image courtesy gettyimages.com

Photo by Chelsea Lauren – © 2015 Chelsea Lauren – Image courtesy gettyimages.com

Above: Keir Gilchrist, Jake Weary, Maika Monroe, Olivia Luccardi and Daniel Zovatto at event of It Follows (2014)

Caveat for fellow Suspense fans: This film is a … slow … burn. And, yes, there are a few times you’ll be asked to suspend your disbelief; but overall, Mitchell’s methods work really well. And the climax is well worth the wait.

Bottom Line: What will follow after viewing It Follows is the palpable uneasiness that makes you want to crawl right out of your skin.


[Disclaimer: This is a copy of my original review posted on amazon.com]