Don’t Breathe – A breath of fresh air in the thriller category
War of the Movies: 8.0/10
Directed by Fede Alvarez
Released on August 26, 2016
Running Time: 88 minutes
Starring: Stephen Lang, Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto
Three young burglars go from house to house to steal with the hope that one day, they will have enough money to start a new life in another state. When they learn that a blind man may have hundreds of thousand of dollars in his home, they can’t help but jump at the opportunity to rob him so they can leave town for good. Their biggest mistake? Underestimate him… Now they are trapped inside his house, and they must find a way to escape without making one single sound.
Don’t Breathe is actually a breath of fresh air in the thriller category. The film is quite short, 88 minutes, and the first 30 minutes brings us absolutely nothing new to the genre: one girl (who wants to give her younger sister a better life) and two boys (her douche boyfriend and the friend who has a crush on her) rob to have money as fast as they can. When they learn that an old blind veteran has a small fortune in his house, they see it as the score of a lifetime.
It’s the next hour of the film that gives Don’t Breathe all the good reasons to watch it. The feeling of compression, the dark and intense atmosphere is one of the best created up to date. The goal of the film is not to give us endless gore sequences without any meaning, it is to make us feel as trap as those three inside the house, and they couldn’t have done it better! There is not one single moment without tension until the epilogue, every seconds that pass brings us new plot twists. This man may be blind, but unfortunately for them, he knows how to use every other one of his senses to his advantage, which means the characters must think fast to always find new ways to get out. Speaking of the epilogue, that may be one flaw, but I’ll stop there as to not give you any spoilers! Seeing as they must try to escape without making a sound, it goes without saying there is not many dialogues in this part of the film, and this is one of the reasons it is so brilliant. The film relates on the cinematography and sound design, which is one of the best there is. They managed what few movies are able to, and that is to incorporate the sound as if it were one of the character. Also, it is quite refreshing to not hear high pitched screams from a character in an horror film!
Although small, the cast is great. I had some doubts about Jane Levy, since she got on my nerves in the Evil Dead remake, but in the end her acting was well executed. However, the title of the most memorable performance goes to Stephen Lang, who plays the blind antagonist. He makes you feel so many emotions all through the film, from feeling sorry for him to pray that he will get what he deserves in the end. Even when he is not in a scene he manages to be intimidating and frightening; you know he is somewhere in the house, waiting to make his next move, and all you can do is sit and wait almost as breathless as the young burglars.
For me, one of the biggest flaw of Don’t Breathe is that they shown us a little bit too much in the trailer. Yes, it captivated our attention enough to make us want to give it a try, but even in some of the most heart stopping moment you know what will happen and that’s a disappointment. It would be best if you know as little as possible before seeing the film, which is why we didn’t put the trailer at the end of our review.
A good point to note is that to fully enjoy the film, you need to be in the most appropriate atmosphere. What do I mean by that? I watched the film with one of my friend in a theater, who already saw it at a drive-in. Before it started, he told me the film was alright, without any reasons to write home about because it lacked some intensity. However, once we saw it in theater, he found that the intensity of the film was at a whole new level. So be careful where and when you watch it because it can entirely change your point of view of Don’t Breathe and make your opinion go from “great” to “alright” in a matter of minutes.
Although I wouldn’t exactly put it in the horror category, Don’t Breathe is one of the best thriller I saw in years, and it is a must see to anyone who likes those type of films.
Should you see it?
Don’t Breathe is directed by Fede Alvarez, who we know from the remake of Evil Dead in 2013. If, like me, you didn’t like at all that remake, you will see that Don’t Breathe deserves a watch since Alvarez has redeem himself greatly with this intense film that gives a whole new meaning to the thriller genre. However, if you expect non-stop gore scenes, this film is not for you, it is mostly based on the visual storytelling and the absolutely amazing sound design.