HOLLYWOOD—I am an avid fan of horror films; I have been since I was a little kid so when I first got a glimpse of the new flick “Don’t Breathe” I couldn’t wait to see this movie. Be advised, there is a big difference between a horror flick and a thriller in my opinion. Horror tends to have a body count that is gruesome to say the least, whereas a thriller can be categorized as a more edge of your seat nuanced narrative.
“Don’t Breathe” is not actually a horror film, but a calculated thriller that works quite well on multiple fronts. The premise is so genius that I’m jealous it’s something that I didn’t come up with. Three teens decide to break into the home of a blind man hoping for a big payday, but little do they know this blind man portrayed by Stephen Lang is no slump.
The movie opens with a major tease that just delivers the audience with the perception that we might not be looking at a happy ending, so prepare yourself to be on edge from the opening moment. From there, we are introduced to our primary players, Rocky (Jane Levy), Alex (Dylan Minnette) and Money (Daniel Zovatto). Rocky and Money are dating, and it becomes quite clear that Alex has a torch for Rocky, and the two are good friends. The trio has been indulging in a life of crime, with hopes of escaping the dire straits of their current situation in a dilapidated Detroit.
Another interesting premise in my opinion; being native to the Detroit area, the film presents a grim future, and that notorious house where ‘The Blind Man,’ portrayed by Lang lives, I’m almost certain I’ve seen that house before. I was hoping that director Fede Alvarez would give a bit more backstory to the setting of Detroit and just how it impacts the characters psyche. Rocky can’t wait to escape the place, whereas for Alex he’s attached to this place and can’t just let it go. It’s interesting to note that Rocky and Money seem at a loss with their current situation, whereas things don’t look that bad for Alex as the audience may suspect.
I can however, forgive that small narrative plot point, because Alvarez does such a compelling job setting the stage for this edge-of-your seat thriller that you are hooked once the big heist gets underway. Alvarez does a terrific job of making it crystal clear to the audience that this ENTIRE house is booby trapped (through the use of the camera) to ensure that our intended victim, while blind is no slouch and knows how to handle his own if he is ever put into a life or death situation. It soon becomes a quest to survive and escape this house of horrors before it’s too late for Alex, Rocky and Money.
Alvarez, who also wrote the script, makes our ‘villain,’ not as innocent as one would expect which is another welcome twist in my opinion. There is indeed one hell of a surprise that totally dumbfounded the entire audience I was with while watching the movie. Alvarez has near perfection on the pacing of this movie that moves the narrative with such precision there isn’t a moment that seems out of place or unnecessary in my opinion. As a spectator, “Don’t Breathe” has the ability to immerse the viewer into a claustrophobic feel; you feel as if you’re trapped inside that house with the characters. And you’re left questioning where and what you would do to escape the compound that appears to have no escape.
I absolutely loved Alvarez’s take on “Evil Dead,” and with “Don’t Breathe,” the director is two for two in my eyes, and I’m eagerly waiting to see what new scare-fest he has in store for audiences in the near future.