*NEW* DON’T BREATHE REVIEW *NEW*

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Don’t bother . . .

Messing with Stephen Lang. That dude is a machine.

Hoping to walk away with a massive fortune, a trio of thieves break into the house of a blind man who isn’t as helpless as he seems.

From the creators of the Evil Dead remake. My heart sank. A shambolic monstrosity that should never have happened. Thankfully, I didn’t share the same sentiment with this taut thriller.

The establishing shot hooked me in from the get go. Tension set. However, I did have a little grumble as the story flashed back BUT thankfully writer/director Fede Alvarez didn’t mess about. The film set up the characters and the premise pretty sharpish.

It takes a lot for a premise like this to work when you only have three characters BUT thankfully the cast were perfectly chosen.

We join our trio in the middle of a burglary. I felt my loyalties were tested very early on. Their unlikeable and amateurish antics had me silently rooting for the appropriated titled Blind Man as they robbed and destroyed people’s homes.

As much as you could feel for Rocky’s background (Jane Levy – Evil Dead/Suburgatory) and need to break from the desolate Detroit backdrop; you despised the way she strung along her best friend Alex (Dylan Minette – Goosebumps) and manipulated him to do her bidding.

It made a change to see Minette break away from family movies. He played the conflicted (and tragically “friend-zoned”) Alex well. Torn between pleasing the woman he loves and giving his father a prison sentence after stealing all his client’s files to help in their burglaries.

For a good 20 minutes, it was a slow burning crime thriller. That was until they received the tip of a lifetime (or so they thought). A blind war veteran sitting on a fortune. Daniel Zovatto was highly annoying as Money. The corn rolled douche. I’m sure that was the point BUT I was actually hoping the big man would wake up as they broke into his home.

The stake out and dull cliched rationalizing did have me fidgeting a little bit. BUT that all changed when Lang (Avatar) was introduced. He was superb. His physical presence, along with those unsettling scarred eyes, freaked me out. From the moment he stumbled onto the scene, I was hooked.

For a brief moment, I felt more empathy towards the baffled vet. The silence created a perfect atmosphere as the thieves crept around the house avoiding his clutches. I couldn’t help BUT think of that infamous Simpsons episode with Bart and the blind man. Especially when one of them was hiding in the closet.

I tried not to pick at the amateurish mistakes that the gang made. Walking past the only door with a padlock on it and wondering where the fortune was? Hmmm . . .

BUT it did unfold into one of the deadliest games of hide and seek. You could cut the suspense with a knife. The night vision sequence was brilliant as the Blind Man cuts the power to his advantage. Waiting in the darkness for the slightest sound or movement. You could hear a pin drop.

From how the film was advertised, I expected a horror for some reason. And if you were too, I warn you. It isn’t. If anything, I’m glad that it wasn’t. A proper little thriller. Just when I was getting bored of the endless hiding and breath holding, the closing act took an even darker turn and I was transfixed right up until the tense finale.

A great cast, a creepy premise and some perfectly executed suspense ridden sequences makes this one to watch.

3/5

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*NEW* GOOSEBUMPS REVIEW *NEW*

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Black is back!

Corny, frantic BUT highly watchable.

A teenager (Dylan Minnette – Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day) teams up with the daughter (Odeya Rush – The Giver) of young adult horror author R. L. Stine (Jack Black – School of Rock) after the writer’s imaginary demons are set free on the town of Madison, Delaware.

The opening 20 minutes was easy going enough as Minnette’s Zach moved to a new town and (even worse) a new school. And if that wasn’t bad enough. His own mother (Amy Ryan – Birdman) is the new vice principal! I liked the dynamic between Ryan and Minnette. It was a little disappointing to see that thrown out of the window for a cheesy little romance subplot between Zach and the mysterious girl next door Hannah (Rush).

Don’t get me wrong, the pair had good chemistry BUT it was all a little too schmaltzy for my liking. Thankfully it wasn’t too long before the obsessive Stine (Black) made his introduction. Welcome back, Mr Black. As soon as the big man kept randomly popping up at windows and fences, threatening Zach at every opportunity to stay away from Hannah, I was entertained.

It was a different side to Black. More subdued and obnoxious. Not quite as loud or in your face. BUT still on scene stealing form. He has been missed. And with Kung Fu Panda 3 fighting its way at the box office, we will be spoiled.

“If there’s danger, I will run the other way”. Ryan Lee (Super 8) was brilliant as social misfit Champ.

For fans of the real Goosebump books, all the little references were there. The whole magic spiel was a different take. Every creation Stine ever wrote coming to life. All the silly creatures that used to frighten you as a little ‘un (and may still do) were all there.

Slappy the dummy was the one that always freaked me out. And lo and behold, guess who made a special appearance? Black provides his sinister voice-over skills to bring the terrifying toy to life. Slappy’s movie makeover wasn’t quite as spine-tingling as his TV series counterpart. BUT I’ll let you be the judge.

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Shudder. Moving on . . .

The special effects were actually quite good. The 3D gimmick wasn’t missed so save your pennies. I couldn’t really pick any moments that would have better with it. The effects weren’t too cartoony BUT this is a kid’s film, let’s not forget. Can’t creep em out too much now. That’s not to say there weren’t a few jumpy bits that might have got the best of yours truly (What?).

The adorable BUT highly violent garden gnomes suggested a darker undertone and gave me that old Gremlins nostalgia as the gang fought wave after wave of them in the kitchen.

It was silly, a little cheesy BUT good fun as our dysfunctional heroes try to get every creature back in their paperback prisons. The endless statistics that Black spewed up about Stine’s career were all true. Believe me, I checked. Selling more novels than Stephen King?! A passing cameo delivering the perfect punch line.

BUT that’s not to say it was perfect. Just like Scouts’ Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse and Paper Towns, Halston Sage was type cast (yet again) as another high school damsel in distress. Anyone could have played her and, by the end, you realized how unnecessary her character really was.

Amy Ryan was cast aside and reduced to nothing more than a naff running joke with her character avoiding the awkward advances of Ken Marino’s (We’re The Millers) high school coach. Unfunny and a real waste of another actress.

My main issue however, was despite this being a mad little movie; it felt rushed. Not enough of Stine’s ghastly ghouls were brought into the mix. Too many of them were quickly thrown in at the last minute that you couldn’t tell what was what.

It just seemed to push for a frantic finale after all that build up. Veep’s Timothy Simons was heavily underused as dimwitted Officer Stevens. More gags could have made with the guy. He had me in stitches in the two scenes he was lucky to feature in.

BUT grumbling aside, coming from a GB fan, this was a silly little blast from the past. It wasn’t perfect (and didn’t quite top the iconic TV series that ruined my childhood) BUT I could think of worst things to kill the time with the little ‘uns.

3/5 (Just)