- Jane Levy as Rocky
- Dylan Minnette as Alex
- Daniel Zovatto as Money
- Stephen Lang as The Blind Man
Don’t Breathe is an economical home invasion horror with jolts of terror throughout. Best watch this movie with the lights off for the full effect.
In Detroit, a trio of teenagers are perpetrating a number of robberies. They are Money, Rocky and Alex. Each of them does it for different reasons. Money is a major hothead with a chip on his shoulder , whereas Rocky wants money so she and her sister can escape her mother and Alex is something of a tag along. When their latest heist and the things they procure don’t sell or bring in a profit, they think it’s time to step it up. Money hears of a possibly lucrative heist that should be easy enough. A former army veteran, who was blinded in conflict, supposedly got a big cash settlement when his daughter was killed by a driver some time before. Although Alex is resistant to the idea, he ultimately goes along with their plan. Once they get through the locks and evade the snarling dog, their plan seems to fall into motion. Just as quickly, the Blind Man wakes up and shows how deadly he can be by murdering Money. For Rocky and Alex, things have gone from bad to worse. What ensues is a terrifying night of attempted survival as the remaining two realise that the Blind Man is really not the person they should have taken for an easy target.
Fede Alvarez brings us an unrelenting ride of tension and heart-pounding horror. He is clearly a student of the genre who knows exactly the buttons to press to get a reaction from the audience. Alvarez gets that silence is golden and wisely limits dialogue, to really stress the situation if the character and how the tiniest noise will alert the Blind Man to their presence. And though there have been a whole host of home invasion movies in the past, (some good and some bad), Don’t Breathe is definitely in the former category. And by having the people invading the house being the unwitting victims who are terrorised, the usual formula is flipped and the power goes to the antagonist. And speaking of antagonists, one could argue that the larcenous trio who break into his house are just as bad as the man himself. Though once they reach the basement, things switch rapidly and you’re back on their side. Night vision plays a big part in creating the claustrophobic setting for the film, particularly when the teenagers are forced into darkness with barely a light for them to follow. It functions to show that the Blind Man more often than not has the upper hand on them which they come to discover. Don’t Breathe can get really nasty when the occasion rings for it and in one instance, it’s very unexpected ( and this is coming from a seasoned horror viewer.) Those who have seen Don’t Breathe will know exactly to which bit I refer, but I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t viewed this twisted cat and mouse game of a movie. All I’ll say is twists come in plentiful fashion here. Sound design is heightened to coincide with the acute senses of the Blind Man, so every little creak of a floorboard or scurry of a footstep reverberates with maximum scares. The music of Don’t Breathe blends beautifully with the sound effects to create real ambience.
The trio, specifically Dylan Minnette and Jane Levy, show that their characters while committing crimes, are not all necessarily bad people. In particular, Levy stands out for her work as the terrified and determined Rocky, who realises she must fight a hell of a lot in order to survive. But it’s the main source of tension and terror that takes the acting plaudits. Stephen Lang, although he barely speaks, resonates with deep rooted menace and surprising agility. There is even some pity that he evokes in the central threat, but he works best when showcasing his keen senses and viciousness that won’t give up.
With a high load of tension and credible atmosphere on show, Don’t Breathe is a lean, mean horror perfect for this time of year in the run up to Halloween.