When three petty criminals break into a blind Iraq war veteran’s house looking for a big score so they can leave Detroit forever, they get far more than they bargained for and will be lucky to get out of the house alive.
“Don’t Breathe” is directed by Fede Alvarez, who also wrote the screenplay along with Rodo Sayagues. The two previously worked together on the 2013 remake of “Evil Dead.” This film tells the story of three friends and petty criminals named Money, played by Daniel Zovatto, Rocky, played by Jane Levy, and Alex, played Dylan Minnette, who, thanks to Money’s sleuthing, have a plan to break into the house of a blind Iraq war veteran, played by Stephen Lang, and steal the six-figure sum of cash he supposedly has hidden somewhere inside. Rocky is especially desperate to get the money so she can get her little sister out of Detroit and away from their abusive mother and her junkie boyfriend. Considering their target is blind, they expect the heist to be a cake walk and to go off without a hitch…but boy, were they wrong.
Big J and I have been looking forward to “Don’t Breathe” ever since we saw the trailer for it many months ago, and it certainly did not disappoint us in the slightest. This is an ultra-intense horror thriller that takes place in and around a single home on an almost deserted street. There is a bit of character building early in the movie that sets up the protagonists and their motivations for their criminal activity just enough so we understand their reasoning for such a crime. Once the three friends break into the blind man’s house, the tension revs up and puts you on the edge of your seat so you’ll be sitting with your eyes widened and your mouth agape the entire time. You may even find yourself biting your nails as these three low level offenders fumble and bumble their way through the man’s home just trying to stay alive after they quickly realize he’s not a helpless, weak blind man. The film holds this intensity throughout the rest of its run time, offering only brief, fleeting moments to catch your breath.
We would equate the unsettling tension in “Don’t Breathe” to what we experienced from “Green Room” earlier this year. Both movies have such simple concepts, but they are both extremely effective in creating unnerving, perturbing, and claustrophobic situations. Director Fede Alvarez is burdened with the difficult task of making the victim of this break-in the antagonist of the story, and we think he is wildly successful in doing so. Of course, this wouldn’t be possible without the brilliant, brutal, and scary performance given by Stephen Lang. In fact, though Lang is the clear standout, all of the other performances are solid as well, and Levy, Minnette, and Zovatto do what they need to do so they can further the story with conviction and ease. The film uses jump scares sparingly to startle the audience, but most the frights come from this taut game of cat-and-mouse between the blind man and the perpetrators who broke into his home and now must stay as quiet as possible to avoid being on the receiving end of his deadly, ultra violent wrath. “Don’t Breathe” is sure to delight horror fans and thriller lovers alike, and we absolutely loved each minute of this twisted movie.
Our rating: 4/5.
“Don’t Breathe” is directed by Fede Alvarez and stars Stephen Lang, Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, and Daniel Zovatto. It is rated R for strong disturbing content, terrifying situations, sexual references, and strong language.
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