‘Don’t Breathe’, Just Watch (Movie Review)

don't breath thumbStripped down to the basics, Don’t Breathe is a mean and lean thriller, focused entirely on things literally going bump in the night. Director Fede Alvarez follows up his solid Evil Dead remake with a frightful home invasion tale where the home owner quickly turns the tables on the robbers. The results allow for edge-of-your-seat entertainment, begging the audience to be just as quiet as the potential victims, lest they be discovered and beaten down.



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At 88 minutes, Don’t Breathe is not here to involve you deeply into the lives of these characters, as it makes little difference. The setup is quick. Three teens/twentysomethings have been robbing houses thanks to one of their dads being in the security business and leaving his keys and alarm codes lying around. They attempt to rob a blind man’s house, as he is supposedly in possession of a lot of money, only to find that he is not at all helpless. These young hoodlums spend the rest of the night trying to escape the old man’s house.

On the robber’s side you have Dylan Minnette as Alex, Daniel Zovatto as Money and Jane Levy as Rocky. Levy gets the most shading, because we should relate to at least one of these characters and because Alvarez apparently really likes to torture her in his horror films. Stephen Lang portrays the blind man, who is all kinds of intimidating. He has little to say, but plenty of presence, as he stalks his house looking for those who have come to cause him trouble.

Whatever other circumstances involving these characters that come into focus should be left up to an audience’s own discovery, but the film does plenty to maintain interest. Similar to what tends to be one of the better aspects of James Wan’s horror films, Don’t Breathe does a good job of laying out the house we spend a majority of the time in. Some elaborate camera moves allow for an entire tour of the house early on, with plenty of hints at what kinds of traps and tricks may be used against the different characters.

Stephen Lang;Dylan Minnette

The camera is almost always moving actually, as cinematographer Pedro Luque has done his best to make a very fluid film. It’s actually what helps scenes where the camera stays completely still, once focus shifts to characters acting like a part of the environment for the sake of avoiding discovery. The production, as a whole, is indicative of careful planning to best maximize the tension and shocks that unfold throughout, which is just as evident in the film’s sound design.

One key sequence calls to mind the climax of The Silence of the Lambs for good reason. Fortunately, it is a tribute to the skills of Alvarez that he doesn’t try to outdo that particular scenario, but update it instead. Thanks to clever filmmaking and enough storytelling for us to understand how things are moving along, it is easy to just let go and enjoy how jumps here (and elsewhere) play out. Not hurting is the killer score by Roque Banos, who creates music cues that hit the nail on the head, but completely work for the film anyway.

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The qualms are minor, depending on a few things. Again, this is not a film full of deep characterization. It would be hard to imagine the film being that much better if 10 extra minutes were added so we could know more about the sad lives of Alex and Money. The other quibble surrounds the kind of violence is threatened and how that is resolved, but it takes away from the “I haven’t quite seen that before” element as well. One could even say some of the scares are a bit predictable. It’s unneeded nitpicking that takes away from why the film is so effective.

Don’t Breathe works because of its efficiency and effective filmmaking. It doesn’t hurt that Lang is terrifically creepy in the way the film needs him to be. He’s hulking and just a bit superhuman in a way that doesn’t quite defy logic, but helps you appreciate the threat. That plays well to the setting and how the camera explores the different angles of each moment of suspense that comes along. Putting all of that in a film that knows when to stop makes for a solid ride in this latest game of cat-and-mouse.

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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Gamer, Comic Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

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