Film Review: Don’t Breathe (2016)

Release Date: March 12th, 2016 (SXSW)
Directed by: Fede Alvarez
Written by: Fede Alvarez, Rodo Sayagues
Music by: Roque Banos
Cast: Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto, Stephen Lang

Ghost House Pictures, Good Universe, Screen Gems, Stage 6 Films, 88 Minutes


“There is nothing a man cannot do once he accepts the fact that there is no god.” – The Blind Man

Stephen Lang is the only thing I loved about Avatar. In fact, I wanted him to scorch that stupid planet and that whole James Cameron CGI shitfest. I hated Avatar but Lang was damn good in it. So when a horror movie came along with him as the “monster”, I had to give it a shot.

Additionally, Fede Alvarez did a fine job with his Evil Dead remake, if you ask me. I know it is a film that divided the fans of the original Sam Raimi trilogy but I was more than satisfied with Alvarez’s serious take on the material. Evil Dead was actually terrifying in a time when horror movies are horrible and stupid.

Also, Don’t Breathe re-teams Alvarez with Jane Levy, who I also liked in Evil Dead. It was cool seeing her get down and dirty in a different way in Don’t Breathe.

The film sees three twenty-somethings break into a blind Gulf War veteran’s home in a mostly abandoned neighborhood in Detroit. The veteran apparently got a huge settlement after his young daughter was killed by a car driven by a rich teen girl. The home invaders want the money, mostly so they can leave the slums of Detroit and go to California for a better life. Regardless, they are still despicable characters even though the film tries to justify their behavior and also turn them into the protagonists when dark secrets about the blind veteran are revealed. Everyone in this movie is a seedy character.

Regardless of seeing bad people come together in a violent confrontation that takes up the bulk of the film, you still care enough about the characters for the suspense to work. While the evil of the veteran, the initial victim, ends up trumping the evil deeds of the intruders, you don’t see it coming and when the big reveal of his dark secret happens, the film completely switches gears.

However, the evil secrets of the veteran get darker and more screwed up and at a point, the film jumps the shark for me. What was a great suspenseful thriller about home invaders biting off more than they could chew and deservedly getting offed turns into a story that is more insane and disturbing than it needed to be and frankly, it loses its effectiveness.

Don’t Breathe is solidly acted, directed and the visual style works well, especially the scene in the basement where the characters battle it out in complete darkness.

While I wasn’t a fan of how disturbing the film got and felt it derailed things a bit, it was a really good horror picture in a terrible era for scary movies. It is certainly worth checking out but don’t expect anything game changing.

Rating: 6.75/10