Don’t Breathe Redefines Suspense With Silence (Movie Review)

Don't BreatheDon’t Breathe is one of those titles that lives up to its name.  Let me tell you why.  I can kid about this now because I’m out of the screening.  We had the luxury of seeing a private screening of Don’t Breathe at the Alamo Drafthouse.  What do you do when you’re at an Alamo Drafthouse?  Well, you watch a movie, but you also eat and drink.  Therein lies the problem with Don’t Breathe.  It’s suspenseful, it’s edge of your seat sometimes, but mainly it’s quiet for tension and shock.  Who wants some num nuts chowing down next to them and ruining the movie with each and every crunch?  Not I!  You see my conundrum here?  Not only did I watch Don’t Breathe, but I felt like I couldn’t “breathe” either.   Ha!

Don’t Breathe actually had its premiere down in Austin, TX this past March at SXSW.  You may remember our coverage of it that ran here.  Jordan Grout and Bron Anderson had a great time with Don’t Breathe.  In fact, if memory serves me correct, I believe they may have went back for second helpings.  Who can blame them?  It’s a fun time with Fede Alvarez (2013’s Evil Dead remake) back in the director’s chair.  The film stars Janey Levy, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto and the face of horror’s newest icon, Stephen Lang.  Who needs Michael Myers or Jason when you have Stephen’s character in Don’t Breathe.  Wait!  I’m getting ahead of myself.

Before we talk about story here let’s rap about Fede Alvarez.  The Evil Dead remake was one of those movies I had to watch twice to truly appreciate it.  Once I got that first viewing under my belt I was free to subsequently have a good time.  Alvarez’s Evil Dead remake lives among my 700+ strong Blu-ray collection today.  However, not every one is as forgiving as I am.  Critics went on to say that Evil Dead had way too much gore and blood.  They also exclaim it focuses way too much on trying to shock and was God forbid a remake.  I can agree with all those points, but nonetheless I still manage to have fun with it.  I digress though because Fede Alvarez decided to do something about it.

Don't Breathe 1

Alvarez sought out to make an original story with Don’t Breathe.  He shares screenwriting credits with Rodo Sayagues here.  The result is a film that features less blood, gore and shock, but focuses on creating suspense.  He also shies away from the supernatural.   Instead he delivers one of the best villains I have seen in a long time in the horror genre.  Think about it, the main antagonist here is blind, but that doesn’t mean he can’t have other natural powers.  It’s basic biology folks.  What happens when you lose one of your senses?  Your others become so much stronger.  It’s true he has a debilitating handicap here, but what makes him even more terrifying is his superior remaining senses.  He’s insanely menacing.  That plus the fact that he knows his house really well.  Ha ha!  You’ll see (pun intended)!

So Don’t Breathe tells the story of Rocky (Levy).  She’s living a very crappy childhood and is basically the care giver for her younger sister too.  She promises her young sister a new life together with her in California.  That sounds swell!  There’s only one problem.  Money!  Believe me Rocky, it takes mad money to make it in California.  Luckily for Rocky, her boyfriend, also named Money (Zovatto), and admirer/friend, Alex (Minnette), rob houses.  They get away scot-free thanks to Alex’s dad.  No his dad does not assist, but instead runs a security practice.  Thus Rob has access to a lot of keys, addresses, pertinent info and what not.  If I had a son like that, there’s no telling what kind of punishment I would see fit for him.  Ugh!

One day Money conceives a plan to rob a blind man (Lang)He’s rumored to be harboring 300K in cash within the house.  He has this money because of a settlement.  Story has it that his daughter was run down by another teenage girl driver.  This girl came from a rich family.  Instead of doing jail time, yada yada yada, the rich family paid him off.  He’s blind because of a wartime accident.  Obviously the blind man is a vet and he has skills.  This is of course unbeknown to our trio who thinks he’s easy prey.  Determined to get the money thinking it’s going to be a breeze the trio break into the house in the middle of the night.  Things quickly don’t go as planned as they grossly underestimate their adversary.  Now the tables turn as the trio must scramble to hide, fight and survive.

Don't Breathe 2

This blind man will do anything it takes to protect his house, ANYTHING.  I don’t think you want me to tell you what happens next.  That will ruin this surprise of this tight quartered game of cat and mouse.  I honestly thought I would be bored by this one given it’s constraining properties.  I love being wrong.  Alvarez delivers a well crafted monster in the house type story with a few clever twists and surprises you didn’t see coming.  That’s what I love the most about Don’t Breathe, it’s both suspenseful and relentless.  Just when you think it can’t go any further Alvarez pushes the envelope and surprises you.  Yes, sometimes he shocks you and there are the occasional jump scares.  However, they’re extremely effective given the dead chill silence we experience here at times.

All the actors handle themselves well and believable throughout.  If I had to choose one thing to nitpick about, it would be the setup.  It all goes by so quick.  I would have loved just a tad more time with this trio before they arrive in this unlucky predicament.  You see, I love character development and I like to care about my protagonist.   Yes Alvarez does rely on a couple of cheap scares, but like I said up above they’re done in good taste and he rebounds quickly.  If nothing else we have a modern day horror villain that could go down as one of the finest of the early part of this century.  His voice did get a bit Bane-like for my tastes, but the turkey baster sealed the deal for me.

It’s over-the-top, ludicrous and ridiculous at times, but the suspension and tension of Don’t Breathe outweighs any of its negatives.  Be quiet, respectful to your movie watching neighbors and have fun with this one.  My dogs are going to love this Blu-ray!  That much is for sure!  The essential way quietness is employed throughout only heightens to effectively deliver its scares.  It’s so is ingenious.  The Alamo Drafthouse played this one loud, contrary to my quiet moments remark.  I’m a firm believer that’s the only way I want to enjoy this one from now on.  For when something happens onscreen, you’re going to know about it.  The audio is going to punish you.  Enjoy!  I did!



Don’t Breathe Scares

Audiences Nationwide

August 26th!


Don't Breathe Poster


Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

  1. No Comments