Film Review: THE BREAK-IN (2016)

Film Review: THE BREAK-IN (2016)

May 18, 2016

IMDb: The Break-In (2016)
Director: Justin Doescher
Stars: Justin Doescher, Maggie Binkley, Juan-Pablo Veizaga

First up I have to give massive respect to The Break-In‘s writer/director/star Justin Doescher for making this film on an iPhone. I’m sure all manner of apps, lens mounts and post production tweaking were involved, but at the end of the day he made a professional looking film on a cell phone. Sadly that’s the only good thing about this film.


The plot concerns a happy couple Jeff  (Justin Doescher) and Melissa (Maggie Binkley) who seem to have an ideal life complete with a nice house next door to their best friends and are expecting a baby. However, a rash of break ins in the neighborhood starts to put them on edge. They begin to obsessively review footage from their home security system while Jeff records everything with his iPhone. Yes, it’s a found footage film and that’s where the footage comes from. It’s presented as evidence in a police case from 2011 with no reason given for it being such an old case.

The film could still have worked except for the fact that nothing really happens until the last ten or so minutes. The footage from the phone is just normal day to day stuff, having dinner with friends, shopping for baby things, the kind of things you’d expect from a “We’re Having a Baby” reality TV show, not a horror movie. The security camera footage is a little more interesting but not by much, mostly suspicious but inconclusive things like a flashlight beam playing over the house, somebody walking home, or burglar eyeing up the place? It’s like a Paranormal Activity film without the paranormal part. It wants to build suspense but it’s just tedious.

And when we get the climax it’s not very surprising or shocking. Granted, a horror film with a title like The Break-In probably conjures up expectations of a home invasion film along the lines of Intruders, Funny Games or Hate Crime, and but it’s not. They should have pitched it as a crime film or thriller rather than a horror film.

There’s also a couple of huge lapses of logic, like the police detective who acts more like a criminal than an officer, asking among other things where the house’s fuse box is and can he see it. Jeff doesn’t think there’s anything odd about that or on a second visit, the detective telling him the name of the main suspect. I’d expect better from even the worst TV cop show. But worst of all there’s a dream sequence. Yes you read that right, this is a found footage film with a dream sequence. How did that make it into the evidence, maybe there’s an app for recording dreams now? More likely Doescher couldn’t resist getting all meta and Inception like, logic be damned.

As an actor Doescher isn’t bad at all, and newcomer Maggie Binkley does well as his girlfriend. The rest of the cast is just sort of there, but given how little they have to work with that may not be their fault.

Justin Doescher has obvious talent and potential as a filmmaker, however next time out maybe he should let somebody else do the writing, because his incredibly dull and weak script kill The Break-In.