Review Roundup - Blind Fury

DON'T BREATHE (2016)

After the Evil Dead remake, Fede Álvarez apparently decided that it was opposites day; to take another shot at horror but in different direction. The excessive gore is nowhere to be found, and the home invasion plot is flipped so that the thieves quickly become the victims. So while his take on the Sam Raimi favourite left me less than impressed, it's appropriate that this is far more effective and ultimately more satisfying as a taut thriller with a few sharp moments of grotesque horror and panic. It's a fine example of taking a simple idea and running with it, in this case the set up being that our would be burglars are trapped in the home of a blind war veteran. It might push things beyond their limits as it progresses, but this is a minor misstep that I will get into shortly.


The premise is pretty simplistic; a trio of youngsters go house to house taking what they want because one of the group has access to his father's security firm information. It's all part of their big plan to escape their filthy lives in Detroit and live in California. It's very basic stuff. One is the nicer guy who is pressured into stealing from his father, one is the tough with contacts who buy stolen property, and the third is a girl from a bad home who wants to escape. Complex characterisation this is not, but it's an efficient way to begin the story. Soon they come to possess information about a blind man who was awarded a large cash sum in a legal case. He lives alone in run down neighbourhood where everyone else has moved away, and conveniently he's another customer of the same security service they have access to.

Of course this simple plan goes awry within minutes as they find themselves trapped inside a house full of locked doors and barred windows. The inhabitant is not as incapable as they first think, though you might have guessed this from their choice of casting Stephen Lang as the angry and sharp witted veteran who lost his sight in Iraq and then his daughter on the city streets. It's a great central character, with an immediate physicality and a grizzled choice of vocal performance. Soon they are at the mercy of someone who not only keeps a Rottweiler instead of a traditional guide dog, but has no interest in calling the police. It's a suspense driven tale for the most part as things go from bad to worse, and it becomes apparent the house has a few secrets beyond a big stash of money.

Visually this could all become monotonous but it offers plenty of variety in terms of lighting and set pieces considering the enclosed night time location. One totally pitch black basement sequence is contained and effective, while in others are coloured with shades of green and blue. Many of the rooms contain different items that are used for attack and defence. The sound design is also nicely done with will plenty of simple musical cues ramping up the tension, while the audio of the house itself and the people inside is sharpened just enough to boost the suspense. Floorboards creak, burglars cover their mouths, and sudden noises are given violent attention.

They push the limits of the premise to include just about every scenario; unlike something like Hush where the disability of the protagonist felt like an after thought at times. It does however feel stretched during the third act, as if they wanted to put everything into the mix whether it worked with the pacing or not. The final twist in the tale is surprisingly grotesque and feels like a group session on what could be the most vile revelation, but the scenes outside the house as the running time continues feel more detrimental to the story. There are several moments that could be left as deleted scenes to making the shock value and the rhythm of the cat and mouse chase more effective. Overall this is still plenty of fun despite these issues, and it's a good time for those looking for a modern horror without trite supernatural elements or overused creepy house tropes.

4/5