Don't Breathe Review
After 2013’s Evil Dead remake received its positively mixed reviews, director Fede Alvarez had a lot to prove with his sophomore efforts in feature filmmaking. With a late August release date and not much pre-premiere buzz, Don’t Breathe was looking to be another throwaway horror film to cap off a less than exciting summer movie season. Luckily, Alvarez’s newest film is a thrilling and enjoyable take on an often tediously retreaded genre of storytelling.
Don’t Breathe tells a simplistic home intruder tale, but this time from the uniquely and surprisingly compelling perspective of the intruders. The story centers on three young friends who receive a tipoff for the heist of a lifetime; a small fortune hidden away in a dilapidated Detroit home. At surface level the job seems like the easiest of their criminal career, and it only becomes easier when the group learns that the victim of their burglary was blinded in the Gulf War. The group of archetypal anti-heroes decide that robbing a rich blind man is too good to pass up, and they almost immediately embark on the routine robbery. Their heist starts off relatively smooth but the group quickly realizes that they’ve entered the house of a well trained veteran with a monstrous secret.
Don’t Breathe will quite literally have you holding your breath as its protagonists attempt to quietly escape the house as an insane man feels his way through the halls with sinister intent. It is a film that’s an enthralling experience which quite literally drips with tension throughout the majority of its 88-minute runtime. Both Jane Levy and Dylan Minnette add dramatic weight to their respective roles, but the strongest element of the film is its anti-villain antagonist, The Blind Man, played by Stephen Lang. His troubled character drives the majority of the film’s most interesting scenes, and his brutish yet sophisticated force is terrifying to watch. Fede Alvarez perfectly directs the intensity of his character and knows exactly when the silence of a scene is most effective. The standout scenes of the film are when the robbers attempt to silently navigate the nightmarish terrain while in arms length of The Blind Man. These moments of atmospheric antagonism are the fiercest parts of this thriller and for the most part they maintain the greatly orchestrated momentum that is mostly consistent.
Sadly, towards the end of the film Alvarez loses the consistency of his tension, with the final obstacles of the film beginning to feel tedious and unneeded. Don’t Breathe starts to feel slightly repetitive with some dull sequences involving a dog chase that begin to stretch patience thin. It is never a great sign when the continuation of a villain’s onslaught becomes laughably drawn out. This, coupled with a weakly unnecessary ending, left me wishing for less in an already short film. That being said, this film truly is the embodiment of the saying “it's not about the destination, it's about the journey” with the enjoyment of the lingering terror allowing for forgiveness of its minor final missteps.
Don’t Breathe is a refreshing take on the watered down horror genre and it will appeal to any fan of masterfully crafted suspense. It is one of the most enjoyably intense films of the summer, if not the whole year, and it is undeniably memorable. With his successfully entertaining second film, I am wholeheartedly excited to see what Fede Alvarez will create next.