When a trio of teens decide to target a blind Gulf War veteran, they get much more than they bargained for when the man wakes up and subjects the burglars to a savage funhouse of horrors. Fede Alvarez (Evil Dead remake) sits at the helm and uses every trick you come to expect while pushing the envelope a few steps beyond for some truly twisted bits of terror. Our three burglars are struggling kids who are trying to break free from their poverty-stricken Ohio slums. A “hot tip” leads them to the home of our Blind Vet, whose name we never learn. He is played by genre vet, Stephen Lang (Avatar). Having lost his daughter to a car accident some time previous, the man is living off a settlement with the driver’s family. The teens quickly find themselves trapped within the house and discover more locked doors than they’re expecting. Jane Levy (Evil Dead remake) and Dylan Minnette are cast in the lead roles of Rocky and Alex- Levy all but unrecognizable from her role in Alvarez’s previous film. Both are fairly standard character actors who really don’t stand out too much.
So I was sitting in a pretty loud theater with a bunch of teenage boys who were trying to make themselves feel tough by scaring their girlfriends with inopportune “jumps” every few moments- all of which came to a head when one teen sitting in front of me declared “Wait… he’s blind?!?!!” after over an hour into the film and several moments where they specifically state the character was blind. Despite this interesting audience, I still found the film tense and that it worked well where it intended to work. Still, most of the film seemed to be a fairly “paint-by-numbers” affair with the traditional beats getting struck here and there.
And then the third act began.
And the film went from tense to downright terrifying, disgusting, and horrifying in a way that I didn’t expect from a wide release film. I felt my dinner gurgle up and threaten to leak out my throat, a little bit of that bile burn deep down in the back of the tonsils. The film ups the ante and our nerves get raked across an acre of broken glass. Our Blind Vet goes from tough as nails hardcore to sadistic monster in a steady progression that suddenly dips into the deep end of crazy town. The violence, both physical and mental, really ramps up in the final moments of the film.
7.5 and a strong recommendation.