Director: Fede Alvarez
Starring: Stephen Lang, Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto
You know you’re in for a whirl of trouble when you see an old man dragging the body of a young woman down a deserted road. Thus begins Don’t Breathe, the pulsating new fright fest from Fede Alvarez. Rocky (Levy), Alex (Minnette), and Money (Zovatto) are three young punks who rob the houses of the rich in Detroit. They have a bit of an in, as Alex’s dad works for the security company that’s installed in many of these homes. The time has come for their final target as Rocky is looking to move on with her life and move to California. The house is in a rundown part of town owned by the old man we saw in the first scene. He’s only referred to as The Blind Man (Lang) and is a retired war vet who won a big lawsuit settlement after the death of a family member. The three of them make their way into The Blind Man’s house late one night after he’s fallen asleep. Money gets cocky and starts making noise thinking they can still slip out without getting noticed. What they don’t realize until it’s too late that The Blind Man is hyper sensitive to the fact that someone is in his house and after his money. He is armed and loaded and will not make it easy for them to get out alive.
I find home invasion movies to be some of the scariest ones out there in the horror genre. For me, it’s more realistic and frightening thinking that someone could break into your house when you least suspect it versus some movie monster or torture porn demon ghoul. If you saw the recent Netflix film Hush and were a bit scared, Don’t Breathe plays on similar themes and takes it to the next level. In Hush, the main character was deaf and couldn’t hear the stalker entering her cabin. In Don’t Breathe, the veteran is blind and can’t see how close the teens are to him and what weapons they may be carrying. In each case, it makes for some intense moments at the back and forth of who’s in charge at any given moment. Stephen Lang previously starred as the villain in Avatar and makes The Blind Man a tough force with violent tendencies. He’s paranoid and ready to protect himself. You just know that it’s not going to end well for those three teens.
Director Fede Alvarez kicks it up notch by throwing in a third act game changer. You will completely see the Blind Man in a different light, which makes the teens appear to be the victims in the movie. This is where Alvarez makes things interesting, as you shouldn’t really feel bad for these teens. Let’s not forget the film is centered on them stealing thousands of dollars form a blind veteran. They are by no means innocent which means that all four of the main characters are guilty of some horrible action. Alvarez throws down the gauntlet once The Blind Man locks the teens in his house. He certainly makes the title a reality for the audience who, like Rocky in hiding from The Blind Man, doesn’t breathe throughout a majority of the movie. It’s a taut descent as it just goes from bad to worse. Just when you think the movie is at the peak of craziness, Alvarez takes it even further.
Alvarez is best known for directing the Evil Dead remake in 2013. He reteams here with star Jane Leavy, writing partner Rodo Sayagues, and producer Sam Raimi. I thought his take on Evil Dead was a huge disappointment as it felt like it was one big gore fest. Alvarez had it raining blood in one scene. It just went too far for my taste. Alvarez shows more restraint here. He toys with that line in the climax where he could have ruined the movie if he went in one direction, but fear not as he does hold back. Barely. You’ll know the scene in question if you go see it. I would hate to spoil a scary movie as going in blind, especially for this movie, makes it all the more fun.
Don’t Breathe is a knuckle-biting bolt of scary movie goodness. I love scary movies, but I’m also picky as more often than not, they feel like carbon copies of others. You can sense when they boogeyman will pop out from around the corner. The main characters are idiots who break all of the “rules” of surviving. You can predict what’s going to happen next. That doesn’t happen here. If you’re like me and love the intensity that comes with these kinds of movies, you will no doubt enjoy Don’t Breathe. If you’re at all queasy and scare easily, you will scream and jump 95% of the time. The gal next to me did that very thing.
Is It Worth Your Trip to the Movies? A must for anyone needing a good scare.
RATING: 4 out of 5 TICKET STUBS