Director: Justin Doescher
Writer: Justin Doescher
Stars: Justin Doescher, Maggie Binkley, Juan Pablo Veiza
I am a sucker for indie films. Pulling off a decent movie with a budget that meets the United States’ definition of the poverty line is a tough feat. And making one that becomes a hit? Well, not everyone can make the next Blair Witch Project
or Paranormal Activity
, two monster hits made for $60,000 and $15,000 respectively. So one feels a little churlish when deriding a project that will never be exhumed from its low-budget tomb. All metaphors aside, there’s likely a reason for this, and The Break-In
is the latest example of a modestly-budgeted project that gets an A for effort, but less-than-average for execution.
The boiled down premise of this movie is this: Paranormal Activity without the “paranormal,” so all we’re left with is activity. Jeff, played by writer and director Justin Doescher, gloats about the camera on his new smart phone (the movie takes place in 2011; a way to tell audiences that his now defunct flip phone has nothing on his Apple), so he takes it upon himself to film everything, all the time. His fiancé Melissa (Maggie Binkley) is pregnant, which serves as further motivation to document daily machinations.
But the phone is not the only film’s eye. Neighborhood burglaries and robberies inspire the youthful couple to set up security cameras everywhere, creating a securitized panopticon that will hopefully catch, if not stave off, future perpetrators. Of course that doesn’t happen.
Regardless of The Break-In’s
derivative plot – something the most dedicated horror fans are accustomed to- one could forgive this silly premise if the film inspired decent jump scares and believable acting. For a movie that only runs at 72 minutes, The Break-In feels very long. The drag is a consequence of too much dull dialogue between our main couple, who will bicker about every clichéd gender role (“No time for golf, honey. We gotta go to Target and look at cribs!”) to how much they love each other, and there’s the camera phone to prove it.
Understandably, the dialogue is meant to build compelling characters, but for me, it backfires. Not much happens in this movie, and the revelation of who is behind the recent spate of crimes is borderline ridiculous. Perhaps with some editing, The Break-In could have been worth the time, for on paper it’s a scary concept. But on film? Not so much.
Images courtesy of Justin Doescher