Look, there’s HUGE spoilers in this. Like, I’m going to tell you the plot. It’s important for me to do this though. If you really care, don’t read on. If you’ve seen it or you don’t care about spoilers, please enjoy.
There’s not much in the way of movies out at the moment. A famine. A dearth. A sparsity. The ebb and flow of the film industry is in full ebb. It came down to a choice between Sausage Party (absolutely no) and Don’t Breathe. I’d heard Don’t Breathe was good; the internet doesn’t lie.
The preamble was very pleasant. We’d enjoyed a nice dinner with some really good friends, lots of laughs, threw some insults around at each other. The usual. After, we headed up towards screen 15 in Cineworld, one of the smaller screens that none of us had been in before. On the way we passed the concession stand, where a small group of loud lads were gathered, buying their Pick ‘n’ Mix. “I hope they’re not in our screen,” I lamented, fully expecting that they would be. Especially since I’d just hoped for that, and the world loves to fuck me. We’d all had a hard week, we were tired and just looking to enjoy a Friday evening out. We hadn’t seen each other in too long.
Sitting down in the screen, it wasn’t too long before I was wishing to replace the entire audience with the rowdy lads.
We sat in our assigned seats, one with an aisle seat as always. Behind us sat a young couple, either newly in love or just on the young side considering the level of touching that was involved. He sat with his arm around her, his grey jersey shorts revealing bare legs on a night that didn’t have the weather for it. He had his feet on the chair in front of him, one of ours. He removed them as we sat down but it wasn’t too long before Simon was having the full 4d experience between the constant chair-kicking jump-scares and the constant running commentary. Strike one.
Next came their neighbours, two seats down. In arrived security – there’s a first for everything, as they say. We’re regular cinema-goers, each with our own Cineworld ‘black’ cards. This wasn’t our first rodeo, but it was the first that involved security and a belligerent couple bent on keeping their Heineken and pint of Blue WKD, despite cinema policy and the fact that they were in glasses. After a verbal disagreement, he downed his pint (he’d fucking paid for it, you know) and security fetched a plastic cup for the WKD.
The trailers are just starting. Not long now, we consoled ourselves. It’s only 88 minutes long. It’ll be over soon and we can go home.
Two guys sat down in front of me, after a fight over who’s sitting where conducted entirely under their breath. Next thing we’re being olfactorily assaulted by the packet of cheese and onion crisps he’s snuck in. Appalled, I did what any sane person does and I took to Twitter to Tweet my indignation. He’s going to hell, I exclaimed. Surely. Shortly after, his boyfriend joined him on his trip to hell after he removed his shoes and placed his besocked feet on the chair in front of him. Who does that?
Bear in mind: the trailers have barely started at this point. The lights haven’t even dimmed. All four of us agree this was a bad idea. Let’s never come to the cinema this late or on a Friday again, we agree. We’re more used to a 7pm Tuesday evening crowd.
Shh, the film’s starting. It’s all uphill from now. No really, shhh. Why aren’t you shushing? Why are you getting louder? The cinema is no place to chat. What is happening?
The film rolls. the setting. The character development. The backstory. We’re introduced to three characters. A girl, her douche boyfriend, and the guy who’s secretly in love with her but she’ll never see him like that because he’s, like, totally stuck in the Friend Zone™. They’re small-time thieves. Modern-day Robin Hoodies, stealing from the rich to give to themselves: the poor. If only they could steal money and head to California, away from this place forever. All three of them. It’ll be great. The girl will even bring her sister/daughter, it’s never really established which. They’ll just do one last job. They’ll hit this house in an abandoned neighbourhood. The home of an Iraq veteran, blinded in action, sitting on a 6-figure settlement from the vehicular manslaughter of his daughter. They’ll break in, steal his money and get out. Anything over 10,000 is grand larceny you guys, exclaims Friend Zone™. shut up Friend Zone™ you’re going to ruin the movie with your frankly sensible attitude.
Heineken gets up for the first time. “I’m sorry, sorry, sorry,” he says in that whisper that’s not actually any quieter than normal volume. I mean I’m not surprised he needs to pee. He’s just downed a whole pint.
In swans another couple. The guy’s got his phone on, pointed towards the crowd, directed straight in our faces. Honestly, people who do this are the worst. Just don’t; don’t do it. If you’re going to arrive 20 minutes late to a movie, be fucking considerate. Don’t try find your seat. Find ANY seat. Any seat that is the closest to where you come in so you don’t disturb anyone. Don’t come in the front, shine your phone screen directly at everyone in the theatre and proceed to sit mid-row at the very back.
So far it’s all very bland, run of the mill modern home invasion movie. They drug the guard dog, break in, take off their shoes – gotta stay quiet, yo -, gas the blind guy so he stays asleep, and proceed to break into the basement, which lies behind a heavily bolted door so that must be where he keeps his money. Who doesn’t keep their money in the basement? Oh no, they can’t break the lock. Oh great Douchebag brought a gun. Oh no. No no, wait, douchebag brought a gun! That means he just gave Blind Guy the right to shoot them dead, Friend Zone™ helpfully tells us. There’s nothing I love more than characters who helpfully explain plot points to the audience. He’s out, he’s done. He doesn’t want part of this.
Oh no! The gas didn’t knock him out! Shocking!
“Oh! Jesus! Oh! Jesus!”, exclaims Cheese and Onion, obviously having never seen a film before.
Douche Bag is caught. It’s over for Douche Bag. “How many of you are there?” “Just me, just me. I know what you’ve got in that basement!” After a tussle Douche Bag is shot. Shot dead. he bleeds out while The Girl hides in the closet, covering her mouth (it’s called Don’t Breathe, remember, it’s important to hammer that home). Blind Guy heads towards the closet, removes a fake bit of wall, keys in a passcode to a safe (which helpfully flashes on the keypad after he enters it) and checks that his money is safe. Still there. You mean the money wasn’t in the heavily-locked basement? What else could be down there?
Blind Guy proceeds to lock the house up, and board up the broken window, sealing them inside and preventing Friend Zone™ from making his escape. He’s surprisingly handy at DIY considering his reduced capacity for sight. Douche bBag is dead, it’s just The Girl and Friend Zone™ now. He makes his way back to her, she grabs the money from the safe – so great that the number flashed on the keypad, right?
Blind Guy finds the shoes – remember that important plot point? Oh no, there’s more than one pair. Douche Bag was lying! The little scamp.
What proceeds for the next 40 minutes is a boring, formulaic home invasion movie, devoid of any real scares, shoehorned plot points that don’t feel at all organic. But it’s fine, it’s grand. The company sucks, the movie is dumb. But at least it’s just dumb.
Until it happens, and of course it happens. Of course the young girl who killed his daughter is tied up in the basement, Fritzl-style. I mean, of course. It wouldn’t make sense at all for that to not be the case. What would be his motivation otherwise? The Girl and Friend Zone™ try to rescue Manslaughter and are just about escaped and BANG – “Oh! Jesus! Oh! Jesus!”, continues Cheese and Onion’s commentary – Manslaughter is dead.”Oh no,” Blind Guy weeps, “no no my baby no no.” The lights are off. It’s fully dark now. The Girl and Friend Zone™ are on the run in the pitch-dark basement with Blind Guy after them. He, of course, knows his way around. They’re split up, scared – although comparatively not as scared as Cheese and Onion – and they can’t see. They escape the basement but the dog there waiting. Shit. The drugs wore off. He’s after The Girl, who is now escaping through AC ducts while Friend Zone™ is flung through a window and left for dead. Next thing you know, the girl wakes up, tied up where Manslaughter was before, Blind Guy Fritzl approaching her with a turkey baster filled with semen, as he explains he’s not a molester and will let her go after a mere 9 months. I wish I was joking. Honestly, I do. People are laughing at this point. We’re not laughing. We’re horrified. It’s gone beyond torture porn at this point. It’s not what we signed up for. There’s no need for this plot. It adds absolutely nothing to the film. It was dumb before, it’s disgusting now. I’m out. We’re all out. We’re just praying for it to end. Nobody in the cinema is particularly enjoying it now. The laughs are more frequent. They’re unintentional. Some people are loudly guessing the rest of the plot – The dog! The Girl escapes! Friend Zone™dies! Blind Guy is dead, a hammer to the head is his demise (or is it? Hello, sequel!). The Girl heads to California with her sister-daughter, and it ends. Ends finally. We all make a run for the door, out into the night. At least that’s behind us.
I apologise to the rest of my party. The movie was my fault. I was lead by the internet. It said it was good. It doesn’t lie.
Except it does. It lies, a lot. The film sits at 78% on Rotten Tomatoes, a very respectable score. 78% for what ended up as one of the worst experiences of my life. It should have 0%. It’s a horrendous movie. It should never have been made. The torture porn genre was supposed to have died with the Human Centipede 2. I’m hoping this isn’t its comeback.
Don’t Breathe: Don’t see.