To this point, 2016 has been a great year in horror movies.
I was not looking forward to this film from the trailers. I thought that I would not have any characters to root for, to care for, because the characters felt like they were just rotten people.
Surprise. I found myself caring for the kids. Who knew?
Rocky (Jane Levy), her boyfriend Money (Daniel Zovatto) and her friend Alex (Dylan Minnette) are low-level robbers who decide to try to hit the big score so they could leave Detroit and move to California. They hear that there is an old blind man (Steven Lang) who had received a large settlement from his daughter’s accidental death, and they decided that this would be an easy way to score big.
They were so wrong.
The Blind Man turns out to be a former soldier who was deadly and dangerous. He turned the tables on the intruders quickly, putting these kids’ lives on the line.
Don’t Breathe is an apt title for this film, because there were many times throughout this film where I, as an audience member, found myself holding my breath right along with the characters. There was so much suspense and tension built in this movie that you cannot avoid having a physical reaction. That is a really fun feat to accomplish.
As I said earlier, I really thought that I would not like these characters because they were not likeable people, but, with the exception of the character Money, I found myself rooting for Rocky and Alex. Money was displayed as a rotten person, a real a-hole, so when he dies (as shown in the trailer… a mistake) there is little connection to him. But the other two are well developed and I can understand why they are doing what they are doing.
Steven Lang is wonderful as The Blind Man. He creates a character who is both relatable and just downright evil. He has been pushed to levels that makes you want to wiggle uncomfortably in your seat. He is one of the best horror villains in a long time mainly because he is so real and believable.
The film avoids the typical horror movie cliches as well. Every jump scare feels like it is earned and the characters do things that make sense. Every decision has a support behind it. The film itself takes the home invasion trope and flips it over. It makes the intruders into the house the victims instead of vice versa. Such a simple, but dramatically successful twist.
The movie is quick paced. With its 90 minute run time, Don’t Breathe still accomplishes a lot. There is a minimal amount of dialogue (especially for Lang, who does so much more acting via the body language) and what dialogue there is is not wasted.
There was so much good in Don’t Breathe that it became one of the most visceral movie going experiences of the year. Yes, it had a very simple story, but that was a part of its charm. It was a load of fun.