Right off the bat, I’m not a huge fan of the horror/thriller genre. Although I’ve seen the Jason series, gone through most of the Freddy Kruger list and even convinced myself to see 5 of the 7 Saw flicks, ll to stay with the list and less fun-tertainment.
Let us start with the basic question; what makes a thriller good/worth watching? The answer is simple à It is the suspense, the nail-biting, tense situations that have the audience at the edge of their seats at all times. And I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that this film delivers just that.
Don’t Breathe is a superb told story about a trio of thieves who find out about a massive fortune in the house of a blind man and plan to break into the house and relive him of his money. Blind, old man living in a dilapidated house in a deserted neighborhood with little to no police protection or home security. Piece of cake right? (BUZZER SOUNDS)…Wrong!! What they walk into, pretty much …. Takes your breath away. (See what I did there :D)
The three thieves ,a blind man armed with his small dog (a Rottweiler) make for an enthralling cat and mouse game, all shot in a small two story + basement house. And you sit on the edge of your seat (or in the case of my wife, below the seat) in the theatre, literally holding your breath, sweating, nervous, breathing ever so slowly, glued to the 70 mm screen waiting for the next move.
The cast is decently picked and most are relatively new. Stephen Lang who acts as the not-so-helpless blind man is brilliant in his role and his presence sends shivers down your spine. Jane Levy (well known for her lead role in Suburgatory) does well as the scared, yet determined burglar Rocky, who has decided she won’t die in that house. Dylan Minnette as Alex and Daniel Zovatto as Money make up the remainder of the cast and both do enough in their roles. All the newbies are put through hell and their performances sell their petrifying ordeal compellingly.
Don’t Breathe is a masterclass in camera work and direction and, I’m pleasantly surprised at Fede Alvarez (Director) who’s only known work is the Evil Dead remake that released 3 years ago. Fede manages to keep the shots discernable, doesn’t jiggle the camera like it’s a toilet handle and sticks to the story like gospel. While the setup is a little too pedestrian, albeit economical, once the story gets rolling, the film doesn’t let up, running at a sinewy 88 minutes. The movie is a wonderful display of cinematic creativity and one of its strongest points is the sound design and the creativity in it.
Personally speaking, one of the best-selling points of the movie is the blurry line between good and evil. Almost all movies have that concept netted out impeccably, however Fede manages to write a complex story brilliantly where every character (even the dog), has moments of sympathy and compassion, as well as moments of scorn and disdain. You end up alternately feeling empathy and condescension, as the lines between hero and villain, antihero and anti-villain become progressively blurred. Not an easy feat to achieve and full marks to Fede and Rodo Sayagues for their thought provoking and brilliantly written story.
So in conclusion, Don’t Breathe is definitely not the scariest film of the year, but it is unique and very well directed and it holds true to its title. My recommendation would be to catch this flick before it leaves the theatres.