The Break-In

the break in 2016

The Break-In [2016] deals with a few days in the lives of Jeff and Melissa, a couple who live in a very nice neighborhood with very nice friends.  However, a series of robberies in the neighborhood are paired with disturbing occurrences in the couple’s house, in this found-footage horror.

Shoestring.  On a very tight budget, The Break-In manages to use jump scares effectively whilst also creating general moments of tension.  This is a resourceful film, which adopts a naturalistic tone effectively to make the horror of Jeff and Melissa’s situation more tangible: we don’t just see horrific or dramatically poignant moments, but also moments where the couple goof around with their friends, or do nothing at all.

Frustratingly Normal Activity.  Sadly, The Break-In suffers from the same missteps found in many inferior found-footage horror films, such as the increasingly dire Paranormal Activity series.  Most criminally, too little occurs for the majority of the film’s length, with too much occurring at the end.  Unlike the diabolical Paranormal Activity 2 & PA 3, moments of interest do occur prior to the film’s climax.  Jeff, played by writer/director Justin Doescher, tracks down a suspected thief, driving in the late hours towards the thief’s house.  In spite of the use of found-footage, the scene manages to give the audience an insight into Jeff’s increasing paranoia, a difficult thing to do even when the audience isn’t limited to a single camera.  Sadly, these moments feel too rare.  When the film finally reaches its climax and shows its hand, I found myself wishing that the film would last a little longer, so that the consequences of the film could be better explored.

The Break-In has strengths but does not play to them enough.  Interesting moments are often diluted by the film’s structure, and you are left with the sense that Doescher has more to show.