Thriller movies, often find themselves, taking a back seat to the horror films, however, more time than not, they bring scares and excitement, as they factor more on storylines and suggestion than just on the blood and gore aspects. This is exactly what Don’t Breathe brings to the table, a unique tale, with a hidden secret lock securely in place, and director Fede Alvarez also serving a co-writer with Rodo Sayagues, both whom brought together a solid remake of The Evil Dead . In fact, carrying over from that project comes, producers Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert, along with the production company of Ghost House Pictures, composer Roque Baños. The initial thought by many viewers and people in general comes from the enjoyment of watching the exploring of the new subgenre of ‘Home Invasion’, as it has the most relatable understanding for them. A brief look at two very popular films The Collector  and You’re Next , shows the surprises in store for the unwelcomed, and brings fear, redemption, and twists to this movie. The suspense in Alvarez reminds cinema fans in general of that from the Master of Suspense, Sir Alfred Hitchcock, which shows a positive understanding to human peril stories.
The story focuses on three selfish youthful criminals Money (Daniel Zovatto (It Follows )), Rocky (Jane Levy, also from The Evil Dead (2013)) and Alex (Dylan Minnette (The Open House )) who burglarize wealthy locals, with virtual zero risk of becoming caught because of their ace in the hole card. Alex’s father works for a security company, and the victim’s clients of his, and his son a well-off rich teen only does it to get closer to his love interest Rocky. They realize their petty thefts will never earn them the traveling money to leave run-down neighborhood and city of Detroit, the dreams of California. The script starts with the basics and slowly layers other motivating points into the story, especially from the characters, namely Rocky’s home life. The team finally, learns about the big score ripping off a blind ex-veteran, who lives alone, on the outskirts of the desolate city suburbs surround by blocks of abandoned and boarded-up homes. The payoff, $300,000, which the individual won from a lawsuit years ago, over a private matter, never likely spending a dime of it, however, private things have a tendency to surface in thrillers. Their plan works only so far, and then comes crashing down, into the basement of sorrows and worries. The Blind Man (Stephen Lang (Exeter )) truly excels in the film, showing the abilities of a blind person go far beyond just playing music. He knows his home, the smells, the creaks, and this makes it all relatable to the viewers and extremely dangerous to the robbers. Lang barely speaks in the film, but actions always make for entertainment and build onto the title of the film, breathing, especially panic breaths delivers your location, just think about horror movie, and the killers in them, an easy death sentence. The movie asks the question, how many people can truly control their natural tendencies to breathe, in high stressful moments, more difficult than expected – try it the next time while at a haunted house or a roller coaster. Some criticize the script for the burglars not thinking in a more advanced scenario, but that actually becomes the point, they are youths, not seasoned crooks, rather smash and grab. They think of the here and now, and it cannot ever happen to me, ideally the YOLO mentality. Without expressing too many details, and giving away the twists, allow this one thought to rest in your minds when considering this flick, turkey baster usage the sickest scene in a long time on the screen. In the end this movie, shows two sides to the coin of life, where some individuals lose themselves to all sorts of sins they commit and fail to accept, some its greed and others grief, either way revenge and karma never end well.
The actors carry their characters’ intents and motivations to exceptional proportions, while the movie centers more around Levy and Lang, both Zovatto and Minnette hone their actions into their roles one as a brut thug and the other motivated by false romance hopes, respectfully. Meanwhile the basement sequence finally gives the appearance to the audience of what it looks like in a darkened room, with no glimmer of lights. In fact, Lang throughout the production work used contact lenses to restrict his vision, as did his co-actors in the pitch-black rooms, allowing for actual real clumsiness conveyed properly to the viewers. The movie is as much visual as it is audio enhancing, a wonderful attribute to the filmmakers, as well as foreshadowing on the set pieces only to generate suspense and tension of when their importance factors into the movie, just like Hitchcock. Now the script has a few plot holes, but nothing to detract too much from the film itself.
Alvarez and Sayagues, deliver a believable and twisted story for the audience to panic over the stressful moments and savor the calming ones (though less of them actually exist). The usage of the darkness conveys a claustrophobic presence essentially enhanced by a highly trained military vet, capable of using what is around himself and controls the situations. The agonizing actions, all strive forward with the assistance of sounds, chases, and a turkey baster for the delivery of a great thrill ride.
This review was originally posted in October 2016 on the now defunct Rogue Cinema website.
- This house looked like an easy target. Until they found what was inside.
- In the dark the blind man is king.
IMDb Rating: 7.1/10
Baron’s Rating: 7.0/10