Don’t Breathe – Film Review

In 2013, when Fede Alvarez’s adaptation of Evil Dead hit theaters, the film was considered above average partly due to nostalgia for the original. However, I confidently placed the new iteration of Evil Dead among the best horrors of 2013. One of my reasons for this was the film’s director, Fede Alvarez. When I heard that Fede Alvarez was returning three years later with a completely new and original film, I eagerly anticipated its release. Don’t Breathe was the first film in a long time that truly lived up to its name. Fede Alvarez not only demonstrated remarkable directorial skills in his debut feature but also showcased his writing prowess.

Let’s briefly delve into the plot… Three young individuals make a living by robbing houses in their town and selling the materials they robbed. But when the money from their thefts no longer suffices, they decide to directly steal money. They target a blind man who lives in the secluded part of the town and who had once received a substantial settlement. Their plan is to break into his house at night, find the settlement money, and take their first step toward a new life. Of course, their plans do not go as smoothly as they hope, as the blind man is a war veteran who knows his house by heart. What should have been an easy heist turns into a breathless ordeal.

The film’s trailer and premise are enticing, making it a compelling choice for a cinematic experience. “Don’t Breathe,” an original screenplay, starts precisely as desired and continues with an oppressive tension as intended. However, towards the end, the story deviates from what we saw in the trailer. The unexpected twist where the story evolves from a cat-and-mouse chase into a psychedelic hostage situation with hidden secrets in the depths was a surprise that nobody anticipated. When we, as the audience, are confronted with the hidden perversions lurking behind the seemingly innocent facade of the veteran, our allegiances suddenly shift.

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The film, in essence, comprises four distinct segments. In the opening, our characters decide to rob the house; in the development phase, they attempt the burglary, only to incur the wrath of the homeowner. Then, the film takes an unpredictable turn and places the blind veteran, whom we believe to be guarding his territory, in an entirely unrelated setting. There is no connection between the man defending his property against thieves and the revelation that unfolds later, resulting in a second plot development that ultimately shapes the outcome. In summary, it’s a splendid example of storytelling.

What truly elevates the film are the exquisite details, including the music and, of course, the performances. As someone who appreciated Evil Dead, I immediately recognized that the Don’t Breathe team was the same crew. Jane Levy, who portrays the character Rocky, was the lead in Evil Dead. Roque Banos, the composer of the film’s music, also contributed to Evil Dead’s soundtrack, which I still listen to from time to time. Jane Levy, Dylan Minette, Daniel Zovatto, and the blind veteran Stephen Lang deliver remarkable performances. In fact, Stephen Lang’s transformation in the role is so profound that it took me a few minutes to realize he was the same crazed commander from Avatar. What makes horror/thriller films successful are the memorable characters: a main character whose innocence we don’t doubt and a monster whose malevolence we are certain of. Don’t Breathe encompasses both of these characters and presents them without missing a beat.

In essence, Don’t Breathe is one of the most exquisite works of 2016 and one of the most successful action-thriller films in recent years. Its unrelenting, escalating tension until the very end, seamlessly blended action with the music, top-notch performances, and, not to be forgotten, Fede Alvarez’s camera work is nothing short of splendid. If you desire to conclude your summer with an impressive, breath-taking film, Don’t Breathe should be your first choice.

Cast & Crew

director: Fede Alvarez

writers: Fede Alvarez, Rodo Sayagues

starring: Stephen Lang, Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto

USA | 2016 | 98 MINUTES |


Ukrainian Creative Director | Motion Picture Writer | Horror Freak

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