(director/writer: Fede Alvarez; screenwriter: Rodo Sayagues; cinematographer: Pedro Luque; editors: Eric L. Beason/Louise Ford/Gardner Gould: Roque Baños; music: Roque Banos; cast: Stephen Lang (The Blind Man), Jane Levy (Rocky), Dylan Minnette (Alex), Daniel Zovatto (Money), Franciska Töröcsik (Cindy), Emma Bercovici (Diddy); Runtime: 88; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Sam Raimi/Rob Tapert/Fede Alvarez; Ghost House Pictures/ Sony Pictures Entertainment; 2016)
“work of fine craftsmanship.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Uruguayan filmmaker Fede AlvaMrez (“Evil Dead”) cleverly directs and co-writes with Rodo Sayagues this muscular torturous home invasion thriller. It’s a Saw kind of ugly film, that uses minimal dialogue.
It’s set in downtrodden Detroit, where three reckless young adult burglars, Rocky (Jane Levy), Money (Daniel Zovatto) and Alex (Dylan Minnette), looking for one last big haul to get enough dough to escape their current miserable lives and move to sunny Hollywood for a fresh start. After watching a TV special on the blind Iraq vet (Stephen Lang), who is living alone in the abandoned part of Detroit, they assume he keeps in his home cash from a large settlement he made with a wealthy family whose daughter Cindy (Franciska Töröcsik) killed his daughter in a case of reckless driving. The burglars find the Blind Man is not as helpless as they thought when they confront him. Protecting him is a vicious growling Rottweiler. He also displays highly developed senses to compensate for his blindness, which makes him super-sensitive to moving in the dark. When the Blind Man realizes there are unfriendly strangers in his house, he uses his combat training, his wits and his brute strength to battle the trio of able-bodied invaders in a series of cat-and-mouse war games. When the invaders try to hide in his padded basement, they are in for a surprise that blows their minds.
There are plot twists that should catch you by surprise, brutal scenes that should be shocking and frightening scares that come about naturally without any cinematic gimmicks. It pits the Blind Man sadistically going after the heartless burglars, who have been caught off-guard by how well their easy target can defend himself and now realize getting the money becomes secondary to escaping with their lives. My only beef is that most of the pic was shot in the dark and it was difficult to see clearly. Otherwise it’s a work of fine craftsmanship, and it has a conclusion that is not easily predictable.
There are no innocents here, as the Blind Man is hiding something from the past that makes him vile. But even with no rooting interest for any of the unseemly characters, it still gets a high grade for keeping up the suspenseful atmosphere throughout. There’s one terrific scene worth noting, where the Blind Man turns the tables on the invaders by causing a blackout in the basement which gives him the advantage over his sighted rivals.
REVIEWED ON 8/26/2016 GRADE: B