This Review of the film, “Don’t Breathe”, contains spoilers.
Last year, when “It Follows” came out there was a buzz as it was so refreshing to see something new and actually great in the horror genre. This year, “Don’t Breathe” is that film. The movie may not necessarily be bringing something entirely new (thinking back to the Audrey Hepburn film “Wait Until Dark”), but it is definitely something so well done it will surely stand out amongst one of the most memorable in the horror/thriller genre and for the year.
“Don’t Breathe”, which was directed by Fede Alvarez (Evil Dead remake), and written by Alvarez and Rodo Sayagues, is a film about a few robbers who decide to rob the home of a blind man (played excellently by Stephen Lang) for his money. Yes, that’s right, rob a blind man’s home. Now, don’t worry as one of the robbers has a valid reason as Rocky (played by the wonderful Jane Levy who also was in Alvarez’ Evil Dead remake) wants to get her little girl away from her trashy grandparents. It’s a valid reason right?? If you see them, you will agree they are quite horrible but as trashy as they are, it is still not a valid reason to go rob a blind guy of his large amount of cash. It should be noted that he received this cash from a settlement for losing his daughter who was struck by a car.
The robber’s characterizations are fairly simple. Money, played by Daniel Zovatto, is a punk who is annoying and careless, which is shown in the beginning of the film where he breaks things and urinates on the carpet of the home they are robbing. In fact, he is so annoying, one starts to wonder why the other two even work with this guy? He’s the type of character one thinks, “Please tell me he doesn’t make it through the film.” The girl, Rocky, is purely in this to get what she needs for her and her little girl to get as far away as possible from the bad environment she’s living in, even if it involves robbing a blind man. Finally, the third robber, Alex, played by Alex Minnette, is the level-headed one of the bunch and in this for his feelings towards Rocky. But he comes with something special as he is able to bypass the home owner’s security systems if they’re using the systems from his father’s company. When Money tells Alex and Rocky of the blind military veteran living along with a pile of cash, Alex is the one who wants to back out as stealing actual cash is a harder criminal offense. However, he eventually gives in to help Rocky out of her situation.
From here the real ride begins. There are so many excellent moments to point out in the film, but the brilliant piece through most of the film is that one cannot help but wonder, “Whose side am I actually on here?” Am I really pulling for some people robbing a blind man?? This thought remained in my head through most of the way through until it was fairly clear who I should root for as one character is pushed towards a more of a villain role. This then becomes the con of the film, as it could have been more exciting to never have it made clear who to pull for.
The film has a few scares, but plenty of very intense moments that are genuine, and not out of place. Such as one scene where the blind man turns out the lights, placing the robbers in his dark world, which becomes an extremely intense and thrilling cat and mouse game in the dark with the blind man now with the advantage. There are other plenty of edge of your seat moments involving the blind man’s dog, and times when our protagonists must (as the title suggests) stay very, very quiet.
The filmmakers did an impressive job showing the blind man’s adaptability to his home. The lights out scene is a prime example, as the blind man moves fluidly through his basement tapping on various items which signal exactly where he is at. Kudos to Alvarez here as it really could not have been done any better.
There is a part of the film towards the end that may make one uncomfortable, which is a slight bump in the great intense thrill ride we had been riding on as it becomes more shock value, but it does not take away from the overall enjoyment of the film.
“Don’t Breathe” becomes a battle of wills between characters whose actions are justified to themselves. It is an exciting and intense horror/thriller and is definitely recommended.