Fede Alvarez’s Don’t Breathe (2016) Movie Review
Directed by: Fede Alvarez.
Written by: Fede Alvarez & Rodo Sayagues.
Starring: Jane Levy (Rocky), Stephen Lang (The Blind Man), Dylan Minnette (Alex), Daniel Zovatto (Money), Franciska Töröcsik (Cindy).
Censor Certificate: A & Runtime: 91 Minutes
Director/Co-writer Fede Alvarez burst onto the scene with his short film “Atague de Panico”. It was so well welcomed and well done that few years later, Director of Original Evil Dead Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert were calling him non-stop and even offered this Uruguayan director the chance to direct the remake of “The Evil Dead”, which came out with rave reviews and fans applause for what it was. Personally, I was not a fan of Fede Alvarez’s Evil Dead, for which I didn’t necessarily blame Alvarez. While I feel like too many horror fans gave the film a passing grade simply for the virtue of its not being directed by Marcus Nispel, the film felt more than anything else like a set of strong elements that failed to cohere. Alvarez obviously had talent and there was no reason that he couldn’t make something licitly good on the next go round.
Now the director Fede Alvarez and producer Sam Raimi of The Evil Dead (2013) team up once again for a suspense/thriller called “Don’t Breathe”. Which shows almost zero gore/blood and banks on a high amount of suspense throughout the film, which is indeed quite successful. I was twitchy with my fingers and on the edge of the seat most of its runtime, as the movie goes through dark rooms and corners both visually and metaphorically with some ominous twists and turns. The added suspense comes with making the unnamed old man in the film blind war vet, as three youngsters plan to rob him, not really knowing who or what he is. Even the multiple locks – bars on the windows in this Detroit home are not enough clues for these kids.
Like the recent Green Room, 13 Cloverfield Lane, Don’t Breathe is also a good suspense-thriller and not complete horror movie as publicized in the promotions by the producers. Yes, it takes the idea of The girl held captive in an enclosed space Room (2015), Hush (Heist.. diff the dude is a blind vet has millions of dollars), a group breaking into a house and get trapped, with stolen children The People Under the Stairs (1991). Snarling hound from Cujo (1983), the lengthy passage set entirely in the dark la The Silence of the Lambs (1991), the seemingly invincible antagonist first shown in Halloween and the concept of three men breaking in searching for fortune in safe room from Panic Room (2002). The story all about three small-time stealers decide to break into an old blind man’s (Detroit Daredevil) house in an abandoned, rundown street Buena Vista St. (Surprisingly means Good Vision), and quickly find the tables turned on them, when the Blind Man (Stephen Lang) brutally defends his home (and the secret in his basement).
The movie starts off as a water kept on the fire for boiling. The first half reaches the boiling point of the water till we reach to interval. The second half contrast to its first half, drops the temperature to certain limit which just results in a mild hot water by the end. The well-written scenes unfold the secret in promising (actually shocking!!) way, handled well by the director towards the end. Though, there are few loopholes in the script like (Spoilers ahead!!); Lang can Smell the shoes under the Kitchen’s table but count smell rocky’s feet when she was right next to him; Then there is a moment they show windows fully barred but then one of the characters gets thrown out of the same window; There is no proper reason why chloroform bomb doesn’t work on Lang; The prisoner actually is a girl who ran over and killed Lang’s daughter. I don’t want to spoil you, I do wonder how did he go out into the world and find the girl who he has no idea what she looks??; But then you think Why aren’t her rich parents look out for her and complain; The final footage showcase that police are sweeping the house and update two people broke in the house. (Even with Rocky’s shoes in Kitchen, Rocky’s Blood in basement, Finger Prints on Empty Safe); in the final moments, Lang fails to turn down his house alarm and act like an swashbuckler.
Alvarez’s direction feels like a piece of barbed wire haltering your body. The director uses sound and silence to ooze every bit of tension out of the concept of a blind antagonist as possible. Every screech of the floor, whisper or escaping breath could give away your position. And in a house where every window is barred, every door has multiple locks and vicious dog may be just around the corner, it’s pretty important to remain hidden. He even heightens tension with cinematographer to create some Tracking shot sequences, dolly zoom shots, pushing shots. One of my favorites being a scene where the lights go out and the characters are just as blind (reminiscent of the night vision scene in The Silence of the Lambs). And the other being the long one take shot showcasing rooms and basement where all the characters introduce you to the geography of the house (when you know where everything is… you get grabbed into the movie). But the movie does go off the rails a bit in the third act with a revelation that I’m sure will feel disgusting than impactful to many people. What I mind is how they tried to overcomplicate and overdo things in the final act. It just goes on and on and seems to go for shock value rather than genuine tension.
As they say “A man can do anything when he realizes there is No God” that’s the best way to justify Stephen Lang‘s role. He is fucking savage, and delivers an incredible performance with only a few lines of dialogue. Zovatto and Minnette are both good, but Levy is easily the standout. She’s firm and petrified in all the right moments, and you very much root for her character. These slight characters are put through the ringer here, they make dumb mistakes and they pay for them. It’s tense-bloody and they manage to play with some genre tropes in a creative way.
With all said and done, Don’t Breath is a solid little suspense thriller that’s marketed as a horror film. The whole movie plays out like that scene in Panic Room where Foster makes a run for the cell phone, but better.
Survi Review: 3/5
***If you want a better experience watching this movie, don’t watch the trailer below***