Written by J. Weagle
This house looked like an easy target. Until they found what was inside.
It was three years ago that newbie director Fede Alvarez shook up the horror world and entered with a bang with his stunning remake of one of horror’s most beloved classics Evil Dead. Many said remaking that film was impossible, but Alvarez with his unique style was able to do the impossible and turn an iconic campy 1980’s horror film into something that a modern audience would want to watch. Don’t Breathe is his highly anticipated follow up, and his chance to truly cement himself as more then a one hit wonder.
Like Evil Dead, this film falls into the hand of Jane Levy who plays Rocky, a girl living in the harsh realities of Detroit who with her boyfriend and friend make a living robbing people blind (pun intended). I agree with anyone who says it is best to experience Don’t Breathe knowing as little about it as possible, but perhaps one of its biggest achievements is making us care about characters who blur the lines of protagonist at times. Planning to do one last big robbery they target a retired army veteran who just so happens to be blind and sitting on three hundred thousand in cash. Things turn bad quickly when they learn that just because he is blind does not mean he cannot fight back, and something a whole lot sinister might be going down.
There is no question about it, Don’t Breathe does an amazing job at building tension and Alvarez proves himself as a very stylistic director. He does a good job at foreshadowing events and making the one setting of the interior of the house feel both claustrophobic and massive at the same time. The film starts almost immediately and from the moment they enter the house the tension begins and doesn’t give up until the end. It can be exhausting to watch at times as certain characters fall victim to horrendous actions time and time again, and the film teases a happy outcome several times only to yank it away at the last second.
The performances all around are top shelf with Levy showing once again why she is one of the most under-utilized women in Hollywood. She does a fantastic job of expressing and moving the film forward wit facial expression alone and is on screen just about every scene. The other members of the small cast do a solid job with what they are given, even if they are somewhat a simple stereotype. Stephen Lang (who is probably most well known for his work in Avatar) does a great job of coming off as both psychotically menacing and hauntingly sympathetic at the same time.
It is very easy to recommend Don’t Breathe because as a thriller it is at the top of its class and offers just about everything you’d want from a film of this type. It’s a very different film for Alvarez compared to his debut and for that one can’t help but respect the creativity and admire the craftsmanship. It does a good job delivering on the tension but certain scenes stand out, while things such as the “twist” felt as though they could have been handled with a bit more flare, leading to an uninspired ending that felt rushed. It’s the type of horror film on a big stage that we don’t get enough of and one that needs to be seen on the big screen.