A NEW BREED OF HOME INVASIONS FLICK: VICTIMS GET TOUGH DON’T BREATHE/HUSH.
Home invasion thrillers like Michael Hankeke’s Funny Games (2007) or Bryan Bertino’s The Strangers (2008) use hopelessness and powerlessness as the main sources of fear. What happens when this model gets a radical shake-up? The film Hush (2016) bucks the home invasion trend, and hit Netflix screens earlier this year, but did not get a cinema release!
The film was still received well by critics and fans alike. Hush replaces the commonplace bewildered and helpless victim/lead with an inventive, smart, but unlikely deaf protagonist Maddie (played by the films co-writer Kate Siegel.) Maddie is a compelling character, her dogged determination to stay alive gets our sympathy, but it’s her ingenious retaliation tactics that really get us on side.
There are a few mind numbingly stupid fuckups on her part, which have you screaming shit like: “Why did you just fucking go and do that you stupid bitch, now you’re gonna die?!” But a film from this sub-genre would be downright dry without a few of these moments, even if they have become overdone and predictable to the veteran home invasion watcher. Overall Hush leaves the throat with less wear and tear than usual. The director Mike Flanagan has worked on Oculus (2013) and has Ouija: Origin of Evil (Cmpl. 2016) to be released soon. He uses the tension between Maddie’s deafness and the threat she faces well, but there is only a small breakaway from the expected cat-and-mouse suspense, and it does become repetitive in parts. The film has been given a 6.7 IMDb, rating and got 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, all-in-all it’s a satisfying watch.
Don’t Breathe (2016) premiered at the SXSW film fest this March, and has received an impressive 8.5 on IMDb, and 78% on Rotten Tomatoes.
The film hits cinema screens in the US on the 26th August this year (and the UK release will no doubt follow shortly!) Don’t Breathe is subverting the powerless victim trope of the sub-genre in much more clear-cut terms than Hush. Don’t Breathe comes from the director of the satisfyingly gory, and imaginative, re-envisioning of Evil Dead (2013), Fede Alvarez, and will be his first original vision.
When Alvarez was interviewed by comingsoon.net he said that this film will be very different from his last, after Evil Dead received criticism for being too much shock factor and not enough suspense. Don’t Breathe will have “no blood in it, and it has to be dry, very suspenseful.” Alvarez said, following it up by emphasizing the film’s “real world” horror. The plot centres on three kids who break into the house of a blind ex-serviceman planning to get away with an easy $30,000. But things don’t go to plan. A review on wegotthiscovered.com said that the plot resembles “the deadliest game of silent Marco Polo” and that Alvarez succeeds in raising “fist-clenching terror.” Don’t Breathe looks like it will pack-in all the tension that Alvarez wanted, and more on top. I love a good home invasion plot, they really fuck with my underlying paranoia and anxiety in exciting ways, so I’m looking forward to getting real shaken up by this shit! @lolajosephine
words by Lola Joseph