The intense, suspenseful, and well-executed film “Don’t Breathe,“ directed by Fede Alvarez (The Evil Dead) and written for the screen by Alvarez and Rodo Sayagues, opens with a house being robbed. Alex (Dylan Minnette), Money (Daniel Zovatto), and Money’s girlfriend Rocky (Jane Levy), are young criminals looking to make enough money from fencing stolen goods to escape the impoverished environs of Detroit, Michigan. The three gain access to the homes they steal from via Alex. His father works for an alarm company, and has the keys and codes to the different properties the business provides security for. The problem facing all three of the youths, especially Rocky, who lives with her low class mother (Katia Bokor), and her mother’s unemployed boyfriend (Sergej Onopko), is that the money they are making is not enough, nor are they making it quickly enough. Rocky has an added incentive for wanting to leave Detroit; it’s her kid sister Diddy (Emma Bercovici), who she wants to remove from the toxic environment they live in, and relocate to California.
Not long after the film begins, Money comes across an on-line story about an army veteran, portrayed by Stephan Lang (Avatar), who was awarded a settlement of $300,000 in a wrongful death suit, from the family of a girl who hit and killed his daughter. The house he lives in is in a neighborhood where he is seemingly the last resident. Alex, Money, and Rocky, monitor the man’s house, and with the exception of walking his Rottweiler, he never leaves his home. Additionally, the three find out that, the man is blind due to a war injury. This, the trio feels, will make their task of stealing his money, an even easier job to pull off than first anticipated; they have no idea how wrong their line of thinking is.
Despite his lack of vision, the man comes across as intimidating, and proves himself to be downright deadly. The youths have invaded his terrain, an old house that he knows every inch of, and seems to have prepared in advance against outsiders seeking to do him harm. Once the trio enters the house, the film keeps a consistent, steady pace of suspense. As a viewer who has watched countless horror and thriller films, I was anticipating the overused jump scares I far too often see in these types of films; while a few scares, especially involving the dog, could be construed as being along those lines, the majority of the film stayed away from it. Instead, buildup and anticipation are not only relied on, but succeed. Furthermore, during what turned out to be an excellent scene that takes place in complete darkness in a basement, I was waiting for what I felt would be the inevitable shaky camera work; I was pleasantly surprised that the film was devoid of such a gimmick. I feel to get into more plot points and things that transpire in the remainder of the film, would be doing a disservice to those of you who’ve not yet seen it and would like to watch it.
“Don’t Breathe” premiered on March 12, 2016 at the South by Southwest Film Festival. The movie which has a runtime of 88 minutes, is comprised of the genres of crime, horror and thriller. Credit must be given to Cinematographer Pedro Luque, and the music composed by Roque Baño, for helping to advance the narrative in a very effective manner. The film, while at times, both brutal and gory, is nevertheless, a well made home invasion movie that kept me guessing until the final twist reveal toward the end. Moreover, until the credits rolled, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen to one of the characters, which is something, as a lover of film, I can definitely appreciate.