On November 10, the film “Don’t Breathe: The Beginning” is released in Russian cinemas. This is a hermetic thriller about how the past can trap a person, no matter how far he hides. We’ll tell you how the movie turned out and what does the Don’t Breathe dilogy have to do with it.
What movie “Old Man” about
A strange old man lives as a hermit far away from people, in the impenetrable wilderness of the forest. He walks in rags, heats the stove with firewood, makes moonshine and endlessly scolds the runaway dog. One day, a knock is heard in his lonely hut. But the owner does not wait for guests. A lost hiker stands on the threshold and asks for help, wants to ask for directions. The old man feels that something is wrong here. He points a gun at the uninvited guest and invites him into the house. In addition, a storm is gathering outside the window, and while the guest is waiting for the bad weather at the sight of the host, you can chat. And the more the old man learns about the stranger, the more frightening he becomes.
This is not the backstory of the blind old man from Don’t Breathe.
The original title of the movie is Old Man. And he has nothing to do with two films about a blind veteran (“Don’t Breathe” and “Don’t Breathe 2”). Recall that in the first part of the blind man, teenagers try to rob him, but they receive a sudden bloody rebuff. In the second, the same blind man is raising a little girl who is trying to be kidnapped by strangers. The only thing that connects these two films with the new one is the leading man. In Russia, he is best known precisely for the “Don’t Breathe” dilogy. So the distributors decided to draw attention to the new project, using the glory of the past. The move, of course, is not entirely fair. But in the war for the viewer, any means are good.
Another common denominator of the projects is the thriller genre. But they are all different. If Don’t Breathe is a thriller with a touch of blood and crime, then Old Man is a completely different level, with a touch of madness in the Lynch style.
Old Man is hermetic and slow, like a theatrical production. There are only two heroes (the rest of the characters will appear for a short time, like ghosts). Events unfold within the walls of a dilapidated tiny house somewhere in the outskirts of the world. The old man and his guest move slowly through the stuffy space of the hut, as if circling in a dance – now approaching, then moving away. Step by step, word by word, the story takes shape, fills an already cramped room. Why does this grumpy old man live in such a hole? How did a lost guy stumble upon this godforsaken place? What are they hiding from each other? Paranoia begins to intensify, tension grows, conjectures are terrifying.
The camera slides along the perimeter in slow and long shots with rare cuts, peers over the heroes’ shoulders, hides behind the shelves. We seem to be locked up with the characters. The bright morning sun outside the window is replaced by a heavy wind and rain, and then the night comes at all. As if the laws of habitual life do not work here, as if this is the space of a nightmare that will be repeated again and again.
This intricate structure certainly doesn’t look like a banal thriller with fast-paced action. Here, everything rests on dialogues and pulsating anxiety. And if it had been someone instead of Stephen Lang in the place of the Old Man, perhaps the magic would have collapsed and it would not have been possible to create this thick feeling of anxiety. Lang’s game is comparable only to a kaleidoscope. His acting range is revealed in all its power and mesmerizing. “Don’t Breathe: The Beginning” can safely be called Lang’s benefit performance. And he deserved it. After flat works in the spirit of both parts of Don’t Breathe, this is a real challenge for the artist. And for the viewer. Such a movie is not so much entertaining as hypnotizing, absorbing. After watching, questions remain, the desire to rewind, review, make sure. That’s the way a good film should be.
Ending Explanation: What does the box and “purple lake” mean?
At the end of the film, the old man sees his wife in a box. Immediately there is a feeling that the box is connected with her murder. In the box is a photograph of her with a seahorse. The simplest version of the murder that immediately comes to mind is that the main character threw the body of his wife into the lake. Later, the old man tells the story of how he treated the Bible seller who came to his house.
He caused him a lot of pain, and then let go. At the end of the film, we learn that this man was a man with whom his wife had an affair. The described moment is a clear confirmation that the old man invents stories about people from his past.
And now it is worth saying a few words about the “purple lake”. Everything is easier than it seems. When Joe threw Jeanie’s body into the lake, the water quickly began to turn red. Joe himself was probably covered in his wife’s blood, so he decided to take a dip in the lake to wash himself. Because of this, the water began to turn purple. So the old man came up with another story about “purple water”.
He also said that when animals get sick, they go to the “Purple Lake” to get better. The old man thought that by throwing Genie’s body into that very lake, he gave her peace. Joe was going through a moment of grief, so he turned everything he saw into a story to fill the void in his heart.
If we summarize all of the above, we can come to a simple conclusion – everything that the old man saw happened only in his head. None of the characters seen or voiced have ever existed in the form presented to the viewer.
Is the old man alive?
Perhaps we can say that the old man is dead and everything is seen by him already in the afterlife. There is a lot of smoke in the forest and the chimney is always on. If we take this place for hell, then the fire that will not go out will be proof of this. Outside, the room is very light. The old man also said that he got into the hut by following the woman’s voice. People talk a lot about the voices that are heard before death. If the old man’s hut was hell, then outside, where he was afraid to wander, was heaven.
At the climax, the ghost of Joe’s wife, Jeanie, appears, standing in a wooden box with her neck pierced. The box is important because it has to do with the murder of his wife. Perhaps he either kept his wife’s belongings in this chest, or used the box to dispose of her body, which is why the old man sees the Genie standing in it. The box contains a photograph of a red-haired woman with piercing eyes. The box functions as a portal or gateway through which he visits and understands what happened in the past. When the Rogue forces him into the lodge, he relives the past and remembers how he killed his wife again.
“Old Man” movie explained (second variant)
We see an old man sleeping in a cabin in the forest. He suddenly wakes up, as if from a bad dream, and is looking for his dog, Scoundrel. He does not find him, but rings his doorbell. Taking out a gun, he opens the door. When he gets there, he sees a stranger and pulls him inside, grabbing his jacket. He is very surprised to see the young man at his door, so he feels somewhat threatened. He asks the young man stupid questions, such as if his wife sent an old man to look after him or if he was a serial killer. We learn that the boy’s name is Joe and that he got lost in the woods. He approached the house after following the smoke coming out of the chimney. He just wants to know which way to go so he can get home on his own. But the old man does not seem to believe him; instead, he wants him to stay and answer all his questions.
We soon see that both of them are very comfortable talking to each other. They start talking about their past lives. Thus, the old man learns about Joe and Jeanie, Joe’s wife. He finds out that Jeanie is having an affair because she thinks Joe is infertile. In one scene, we see that Joe’s knife is covered in blood, which makes us think that he probably killed his wife Jeanie and ran off into the woods.
At night, when the old man is about to cook food for both of them, Joe suddenly runs away. Shortly thereafter, the Rogue arrives. We learn that the Scoundrel is not a dog, but a very dangerous person whom the old man is very afraid of. The scoundrel says that he went hunting to get food for both of them. Then the plots start to become linear and we find out that Joe is just a younger version of the old man. He saw how his wife entered into an intimate relationship with another man, and this made him so angry that he could not control himself. He killed them both, and the ghost of his wife still haunts his dreams. We can tell that this Scoundrel could be the man his wife was having an affair with since they have similar faces. He came up with all these current characters, which he often does. He never sleeps because all he can think about is the ghosts of his past.
When the old man sees his wife standing in the box at the end of the movie, we get the feeling that the box has something to do with his wife’s murder. He may have used this box to store his wife’s things. The box contains a photograph of her with a seahorse. Well, the simplest theory is that he probably dumped his wife’s body in the ocean or lake. Now the old man tells the story of how he treated the Bible seller who came to his house. He hurt him a lot and then let him go. However, at the end of the movie, we learn that the salesman in the Old Man’s story was actually the man Jeanie was having an affair with. This example gives us confidence that the old man is making up stories about people from the past.
So, if we’re talking about the box, then it seems likely that Joe, the old man, killed his wife and then put her body in the box. He then threw it into a nearby lake. Now the old man tells Joe the story of how he once fought a leopard and killed him with a rock. He said he killed the leopard by hitting it with a stone in the neck. He killed his wife the same way. So we can assume that he made up the story about killing the leopard right after he killed the Genie. In his psychic dream, he saw himself killing the leopard, not the Genie. That’s why the stab wound is replaced with a leopard’s eye at the end of the movie. So, Genie’s body was probably thrown into the box, which is why the old man saw Jeanie standing in it. The villain also makes the old man climb into the box against his will. When the old man got out of the box, he again remembered how he killed his wife. Thus, the purpose of the box in the film becomes clear.
Let’s talk about Purple Lake. It’s easier than you might think. When Joe threw Jeanie’s body into the lake, it was full of blood because she had been bleeding for a long time. So, when he hit the water, the color of the water started to turn red. Even Joe was probably covered in Genie’s blood, so he went to the lake to wash up. The water had already turned a little purple due to all the blood that had drained from Genie’s body. So he came up with a new story in his head about “Purple Water” or “Purple Lake”. He said that when animals are hurt, they go to Purple Lake to get better. He thought that by throwing Genie’s body into the Purple Lake, he had given her the peace she needed. Perhaps he thought that the “Purple Lake” would heal the Jinn’s wounds that were inflicted by himself.
Joe was going through a grieving process, so he turned everything he saw into a story to fill the void he would have to live with for the rest of his life. He came up with the character of the Scoundrel, whom he is afraid of. This is because he bears the burden of killing him and is afraid that his ghost will constantly haunt the old man. That’s why Joe, the old man, thought of Rogue as someone who had more control over him. It was just fear of the ghost of the man he killed for having an affair with Jeanie. So, we can sum up all the thoughts to understand that whatever the old man saw, everything happened in his head. In fact, none of the characters invented by the Old Man ever existed in the form in which he was described.