The Break-In (2016) Review

Just when you think found footage is dead, someone comes along just in time to inject some much needed life into the weakened genre. Although the Break-In may not deliver the most original story, a clever screenplay, intelligent building of tension and a convincing cast manage to give the audience something to get excited about.

The Break-In follows a recently engaged couple as they become increasingly stressed when a string of burglaries plague their neighbourhood. After installing a security system and documenting their day to day activity, it soon becomes apparent they might not be as safe as they thought.

Heavily influenced by ‘Paranormal Activity’ and the resulting franchise, Director Justin Doescher clearly knows a little about the found footage genre. His use of cameras and the techniques he adopts provide a level of professionalism often unseen at the independent level. The balance of security and found footage is effective at setting the scene while using minimal number of sets. Although Doescher’s direction isn’t ground-breaking by any means, by thinking outside the box and using the iPhone 6, he’s produced a low cost film in remarkably high quality.  Further to this, his attention to detail (ie character development, interaction etc) keeps the story on track while at the same time wrapping up some of the more clichéd issues that other thrillers usually suffer from.

As ever there’s always a level of predictability within this genre. The big plot twist at the end may not come to a shock to all but the build-up of tension for the finale is more than enough to keep you interested. Although, the pace seems to slow down around the middle, strong character development in the first half does just enough to carry the audience to the interesting climax.

A key strength to a horror/thriller is to have an unknown cast that can still perform when needed – something that ‘The Break-In’ benefits from throughout. Having a relatively unknown ensemble at front and centre provides a sense of realism that a well-known face so often fails to achieve. The lead actors Justin Doescher and Maggie Binkley are incredibly convincing as a couple while supporting cast Juan Pablo Veiza and Melissa Merry round off the group nicely. It’s nice to see there’s no missing link to take away from what’s happening on screen.

Overall, The Break-In is one of the more standout low-budget productions. Even though it’s made by an inexperienced director, its clever direction helps cover some of the more amateurish moments. As mentioned above, the story doesn’t necessarily reinvent the wheel but as a standalone picture it’s head and shoulders above some of Hollywood’s high profile films within the same genre. As it stands, it would be nice to see this released onto some cinema screens.

You can watch The Break-In at Vimeo – https://vimeo.com/ondemand/thebreakinmovie

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