Movie Review: Don’t Breathe
We’ve all seen a scary or suspenseful movie that really disturbs us. This suspenseful film is based on a simple home invasion, gone awry. The movie has a plot we’ve seen in thrillers before, but this one takes a grisly turn and twist. There are horror movies where for a few days, it’s hard to sleep at night, or you’re constantly checking over your shoulder… Common side effects of watching good movies in the horror/suspense genre. But Don’t Breathe is not one of those movies, so don’t hold your breath. Looking deeper into the film’s success and failures; we examine the director, the cast, the plot, and how likely this is to scare you while watching the movie.
Don’t Breathe was directed by Federico Alvarez, known as Fede Alvarez. He is a fairly young (mid-thirties) Uruguayan filmmaker, best known for his remake of Evil Dead (2013). According to sources from IMDb.com, the Internet Movie Database, he has been involved with directing and writing since 20011. Alvarez is a relatively new face in the big franchise film industry, he was offered a deal with Ghost House Pictures in 2009 which led to the remake of Evil Dead, on a nearly $40 million USD film budget. Since his breakout into mainstream film with Ghost House, he appears tempted to continue making big screen films. Don’t Breathe is a relatively low budget film ($9.9 million USD), as it did not need many special effects or well-known locations, yet it has managed to make its mark in the box office at $129.2 million dollars this week2. Alvarez cuts right to the chase from the start of the film, showing viewers a blind veteran with a mysteriously sinister lifestyle.
The cast of Don’t Breathe consists of four main characters, three thieves and a blind man played by Stephen Lang who’s been cast in Avatar (2009) and The Men Who Stare at Goats (2009). Lang’s character is assumed to be sitting on a lawsuit payout of a few hundred thousand dollars due to the death of his daughter in a car accident. The thieves consist of an obvious love triangle between Rocky, played by Jane Levy (of Evil Dead, 2013), her best friend Alex, played by Dylan Minnette (known for Prisoners, 2013 and Goosebumps, 2015), and her boyfriend Money, played by Daniel Zovatto (known for Fear the Walking Dead, 2016). If you are looking for character depth or a detailed back story, you will be sadly disappointed. Fede Alvarez is a cut to the chase kind of filmmaker in this genre of film.
Viewers are only provided enough information to understand why the burglars are targeting a war veteran. We are efficiently walked through the cast’s back story within the first 20 minutes of the film. Alvarez successfully gets across a message that helps viewers find apathy for these criminals looking to rob a blind war veteran. The location is set in Detroit, Michigan near an abandoned neighborhood in an old industrial district. We are introduced to three troubled young adults who are bound together by the female lead, Rocky. She has grown up hard in Detroit, her mom is an alcoholic and seems to have put her children in a bad situation. Rocky wants to run away with her little sister, and just needs enough money to start a new life. Money is Rocky’s boyfriend, the mysterious bad boy character. He doesn’t have much back story except that he has connections to someone who can find the friends’ burglary work. Alex is a necessary supporting lead role. He is clearly in love with Rocky, but is only involved with the couple due to his father owning a security business and having inside knowledge of target homes. There is a clear tension between the two young men over Rocky, later in the film.
As the crew scopes out their newest target, the blind man – Money briefs them on their newest job. Rocky and Alex learn that the blind man is a Gulf War veteran who lost his sight while serving his country. He iterates that the crew target this man because he’s received a hefty payout after his daughter was killed by a drunk driver. The driver just so happened to be a high class woman with a lot cash, who insisted on settling with a few million dollars. As Money explains the details, they watch the blind man who is across the street with a very vicious dog. Their victim is the only person who lives in that particular neighborhood, there are literally empty, boarded up houses all around his creepy, suburban, colonial style home. With this new found knowledge the crew decides this could be the last job they’d ever have to do and “just because he’s blind doesn’t mean he’s a saint.”.
Throughout the film we are taken through the sharp turns of the blind man’s house, and Alvarez makes sure that every sound pierces the tense silence. You quickly learn the need for quiet in this movie, because any sounds can mean death in the blind man’s house. The blind man has a gun strapped under his bed just as anyone would assume of a paranoid war veteran. But the friends find out that this blind man has a lot more at stake than just his cash settlement. The group discovers some dark secrets in the blind man’s basement after he relentlessly shoots one of the intruders in the head.
Despite having a remedial plot, there is an original twist that makes it better than most in the genre today. The twist will definitely make you question the blind man’s character, but it will likely leave you wondering why any of the events that led up to the break in occur. There is some disturbing context in the movie, but it’s not really all the gruesome or gory. This movie just fails to deliver the bone chilling after effects, that horror lovers crave. Regardless, it doesn’t matter what your favorite movie genre is, Don’t Breathe will definitely draw in your attention. It will make you jump every time you sigh a breath of relief, but it will also make you wonder why it scared you in the first place. How likely is it that a blind man is capable of all the terrors in his home, that just so happens to be in an abandoned neighborhood? There’s not much to be said about the acting in this film, but Stephen Lang’s performance definitely stands out. Dialogue is kept short given that the situation is a home invasion, but the director really makes this whole scenario a thrill. The movie is no Oscar nominee, but it’s definitely a fun, and different style of horror/suspense that is sure to please the seasoned movie goer.
- “Fede Alvarez.” IMDb. IMDb.com, n.d. Web. 06 Oct. 2016.
- “Don’t Breathe (2016) – Box Office Mojo.” Don’t Breathe (2016) – Box Office Mojo. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Oct. 2016.