Review: Don’t Breathe (2016)

Don’t Breathe (2016)

Directed by: Fede Alvarez | 88 minutes | crime, horror, thriller | Actors: Jane Levy, Stephen Lang, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto, Emma Bercovici, Franciska Töröcsik, Christian Zagia, Katia Bokor, Sergej Onopko, Olivia Gillies, Dayna Clark

Robbers often choose their victims carefully. They analyze the poor person, make their move as quickly as possible and then choose the best path. Does the person wake up in the middle of the night? Then this one is most likely waiting for a beating. The next day, the story of the robbed/battered can be heard via any news medium. The world will never hear from the side of the perpetrators, although it would be nice if the information that they were arrested still comes out. What exactly happens on such a night remains quite one-sided, because are the victims always as vulnerable as they appear at first glance? Director Fede Alvaraz provides the answer and shows with ‘Don’t Breathe’ what horrible things take place during such a night. Poor robbers.

In this case, Rocky (Jane Levy), her boyfriend Money (Daniel Zovatto) and their friend Alex (Dylan Minnette) are the hapless felons. They think they can get a big score by ambushing a blind man (Stephen Lang). He recently lost his daughter in a traffic accident and suddenly became very rich because of the won lawsuit. However, the blind man turns out to be a seasoned veteran who doesn’t take the law very seriously. Then the viewer is presented with a horror film that keeps the tension well and does not shy away from a number of ethical issues.

Our protagonists are not the most sympathetic types. The blind man therefore already has the right to defend himself and to kick these teenagers out of his house. However, the way in which this happens is often not acceptable and is also terrifying. Director Alvaraz knows how to shift the sympathy between the robbers and the blind man flawlessly. As a result, there is no clear antagonist in the majority of ‘Don’t Breathe’ and it remains to be seen who will win this exciting cat-and-mouse game.

The house is also the perfect location for these confrontations. It seems a somewhat mundane setting for a horror film, but Pedro Luque’s camera work ensures that the aforementioned tension is retained. Every corner looks treacherous and the darkest and most scary places of the house are explored. This creates some very effective scares that boost the viewer’s adrenaline.

The set-up of ‘Don’t Breathe’ is kept nice and simple so that there is enough to scare and the roller coaster ride can start as soon as possible. Stephen Lang steals the show as the “monster” that hunts our “heroes”. His extremely cold portrayal of this broken man works very effectively. It ensures that this horror film remains quite realistic without compromising the genre. It is even colored neatly within the lines of the style, but what is colored is quite a work of art. A modest pearl within the endless stream of horror prints.

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