By Ryan Keating-Lambert
2016, especially summer, has been a bit of a disappointment as far as blockbuster movies go. Nothing really received critical acclaim, and aside from Suicide Squad, there wasn’t much money to be made. Horror movies on the other hand, seem to be doing better than ever – The Conjuring 2, The Witch and Lights Out to name just a few. Don’t Breathe is the latest from director Fede Alvarez and is a genuine and original journey to the brink of fucked-up.
Don’t Breathe takes the typical home invasion thriller and puts us in the front seat with the invaders. In this case, a few teenage nobodies who want to be somebodies by stealing money and valuables. On this particular excursion, they decide to pick on a blind guy, who also happens to be ex-military… What could possibly go wrong? What starts with a typical suspense driven break-in that reminded me a bit of Netflix’s Hush, soon descends into extreme tension and nauseating claustrophobia. The plot takes so many twists and turns, which I feel could really go wrong in another film, but Don’t Breathe holds the tension and surprisingly holds a certain amount realism to the whole idea.
Fede Alvarez is no stranger to horror and also did the 2013 remake of the Sam Raimi classic Evil Dead. Where Evil Dead used extreme violence and torture to gross out horror fans, Don’t Breathe thrives on tension and mood, showing that Alvarez is good at exploring the boundaries of horror. He’s definitely one to watch in the near future. With Sam Raimi in the producer’s chair, they’re a bit of an unstoppable duo at this point.
Careful thought has also gone into the cast. For fans of his Evil Dead remake, expect a few familiar faces. Jane Levy does a splendid job at playing Rocky, the main culprit of the teenage invaders. She’s exhausted and genuinely terrified throughout the film, but there’s a hint of hero in there somewhere too. Stephen Lang is truly disturbing as the blind man. It wasn’t until halfway through the film that I realised “wow, that’s the bad guy from Avatar.” This guy is pure evil and I think some outtakes of him and the rest of the cast interacting on set would be fascinating to see. The mood is just so dark and dirty in this film. Apparently Fede Alvarez drew inspiration from his hometown of Montevideo in Uruguay.
I don’t have too many negative things to say other than there is one scene that seems a bit out of character for the plot – a bit too exaggerated and sensational. I understand how screwed up people can be, but surely there’s a limit? The film is being defined for its violence. But I don’t think it’s especially violent, just very disturbing. Then again, after seeing Evil Dead, nothing is violent anymore.