RELEASED 2016 RUNTIME 88 MIN LANGUAGE ENGLISH DIRECTION FEDE ALVAREZ SCREENPLAY FEDE ALVAREZ, RODO SAYAGUES STARRING JANE LEVY, DYLAN MINNETTE, DANIEL ZOVATTO, STEPHEN LANG MUSIC ROQUE BANOS
Don’t Breathe is about a group of three young robbers in Detroit who find themselves in a death threatening situation when the robbery of a blind man’s house goes horribly wrong.
My roommate hated the movie. I thought it’s awesome. If you go into this thinking this is going to be some great piece of movie making with great depth and cultural impact, you will end up like my roommate. Clearly his expectations were somewhere beyond the moon. And still, the movie goes places beyond its premise you didn’t think of.
It’s a dark thriller with horror elements. There is no monsters or supernatural stuff. It’s just a pure, well written suspensive thrill ride with humans being hunted by a blind man. He is basically the boogeyman of the film. How’s that supposed to work without going over the top? I didn’t believe it either at first. But it actually does work in a believable way!
Almost the entire movie takes place inside a house and it’s surrounding. Because it is the blind man’s house, it’s already established that the man probably knows his way around the property very well. Also, because of his blindness his other sense are heightened, which gives him an advantage when it comes sounds and smell (which is actually normal among blind people). He also is an ex-military man which establishes his combat abilities.
It’s really not as much of a stretch to imagine the blind guy being able to defend himself, especially when dealing with frightened young folks inside his mansion.
Btw. Stephen Lang as the blind man kills it (literally)! He is frightening. Perfect casting!
DIRECTION & PLOT (NO SPOILERS)
But slasher film aside. What’s really impressive is the direction and the writing. The movie is really suspenseful. It doesn’t jump scare you (maybe once or twice), but creates an intense atmosphere which grabs you by the balls.
And that’s where the handicap of the blind man comes into play. You never know what is going to happen next. One thing the movie does so well is keeping the blind man vulnerable. He never seems like he is a step ahead. He always reacts to his surroundings and in response to what the three main characters do. It keeps it unpredictable and you always feel surprised.
Also, the blind factor (yup!) is the main reason for creating such a tense atmosphere because the only way to keep yourself hidden from a blind man is to be quiet. The movie portrays that perfectly. The moments where the protagonists try to stay hidden are the best! The reason why it works so great for the atmosphere is that you as the viewer find yourself holding your breath during these moments, just to not create any noise. The movie theater was quiet like at a funeral during my screening. It was awesome!
At points you even feel sorry for the guy. You clearly feel that he has this disadvantage and the movie utilizes it. It never portrays the guy as some kind of superhuman (aka Daredevil). He acts like a blind man would act and utilizes his household to his advantage. There are some great scenes in the basement where he turns off the lights in order to even out the odds.
To sum it up. He feels very human and things make sense! Did you hear? The plot actually makes sense! That’s really one of the biggest compliments I can give it. Utilizing a blind person as the villain in such a premise and making it believable? YES!
As said, the plot is full of surprises. It actually goes places you did not think it would. The third act is crazy and really goes for it. That’s another big compliment. The film is highly original and unapologetic.
I don’t really know, if that’s a criticism or not. But the reason why I’m talking about the blind man so much is because the main characters aren’t as interesting as him. I found myself actually rooting for the guy over our protagonists because who the fuck robs a blind man? Assholes do. And no matter how much the movie tries to make us sympathize with them, in the end you don’t rob a blind man. In simple terms, they deserve the shit he gives them. Well, almost all the shit. As is said, the third act kinda evens it out 😉 The blind man has a few screws loose if you ask me. But that’s great though because it kept my mind challenged for whom to root for.
Still though, it’s not like the protagonists are stupid and you don’t feel for them. One of the reasons is that the movie actually finds enough time to establish them. Also two of these guys have clear conscience and you kind of go along with their motives. However, there is one asshole among them. But I guess, he is the one dragging them into this shit, so in a way, it makes you root for the other two even more. But for me, I want the blind man to win, except for the one thing… If you want to know, watch the film 😛
Overall, I really had tons of fun with the film. I may actually love it. It’s a very intense thriller with a great “villain” and cool twists. It never goes over the top and keeps things believable and grounded. If you like dark thrillers and/or horror, you will not be disappointed. And hey, it’s an original property too! Give it a go!
It’s another good horror/thriller in good year for horror movies in general.