DON’T BREATHE Movie Review
The main thing I took away from the Evil Dead remake helmed by Fede Alvarez was witnessing the work of a filmmaker with an abundance of technical prowess and visual style, but nothing would prepare me for his sophomore effort Don’t Breathe. This movie hit me like a sucker punch to the gut and I mean that in the most complimentary way.I often go to critic screenings for horror films with slight trepidation, for some reason the general public that show up for a free movie often feel the urge to talk between quiet scenes and draw attention to themselves instead of respecting the movie, but in this particular screening for the first hour was so intense that you could hear a pin drop.
Rocky (Jane Levy), Money (Daniel Zovatto) and Alex (Dylan Minnette) have a run of success robbing rich houses with a loophole in their home security and avoid leaving a paper trail by avoiding stealing cash. Money finds the big break they’ve been searching for and offers a risky but fruitful proposition of robbing a war veteran who came into a big inheritance which would afford them to leave poverty behind in Detroit and live their dreams in sunny California, of course this wouldn’t be a horror film if they didn’t get more than they bargained for. As soon as they get past a brutal watch dog and enter the house, Don’t Breathe grabbed me by the throat and didn’t let up for about an hour. Stephen Lang is absolutely chilling as the blind man they regretfully encounter and Alvarez wisely uses minimal score and dialogue to let the tension unsettle his audience. The last time I felt as unsettled and claustrophobic in a movie theater was back in 2005 watching The Descent.
Pedro Luque’s cinematography and the brilliant sound department really gets creative and what they allow you to see and hear subtly gets under your skin and allows the audience to struggle with their own paranoia and panic-inducing dread. Not to say that Alvarez doesn’t want his audience to have fun, there are moments that shows his roots of digging through horror v/h/s tapes in his youth, particularly a brutal scene involving garden shears, a delightful nod to The Burning. There’s a brief let up in the last 30 minutes that leads into a plot twist that will surely divide audiences, but I was completely on-board with it and delighted that Don’t Breathe dodged going completely conventional and safe.
I honestly didn’t think I’d see a more suspenseful movie than Green Room this year, but damn if this didn’t prove me wrong. Don’t Breathe is a 90 minute house of horrors that delivers the goods and shows the genre is in good hands.