Every good story will have two important elements Protagonist and Antagonist. Without these two most stories wouldn’t work. We all know how the stories go – The Hero against all odds has to beat the all-powerful Villain. The classic David vs. Goliath story arc. The Villain or Antagonist will have all the power at their disposal, they will have no shortage on plans, goons, corruption, blood and guts. But still get dusted in the end. That is why we rarely feel sympathy towards antagonists.
But what if antagonist himself is at odds? A Blind man, will we be compassionate towards him? Can we defend his actions? These are some of the questions we ask ourselves while watching Don’t Breathe. Released in 2016 and directed by Fede Álvarez in his second outing after the Evil Dead remake, we see Stephen Lang (of Avatar fame) in his best performance as a Blind Man at crossroads with couple of young thieves who plan to rob this helpless blind man. Helpless is an understatement, unbeknownst of his military background and a knack to kill, the thieves find themselves in precarious situations and get killed one at a time.
There is more to The Blind Man other than his skills. A dark secret hidden in his basement. Through the escape acts of the thieves, we find out that the blind man has kidnapped a woman, who was responsible for his daughter’ death in an accident. He wants to extract revenge on this woman by artificially inseminating her and birthing a child as a replacement for his dead daughter.
The viewer is constantly at odds as to who is right and who is wrong. Is the Blind Man right in defending himself with any means necessary? What about his treatment of the woman in the basement? Can we defend the thieves who wanted to rob a blind man knowingly? Less often we come across such movies and characters where we are in a conundrum to declare who is right and wrong.
With most of the story happening inside a house and in the dark, Don’t Breathe is wisely crafted and well directed. The story of an Antagonist Blind Man is not black and white, but shades of grey.
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