Don’t Breathe Review
Director: Fede Alvarez
Stars: Jane Levy/Stephen Lang
Year Released: 2016
Running Time: 88 Minutes
Spoilers are right behind you
More than any other genre, horror films are hit and miss for me. For every great horror film, I see it seems there are half a dozen others that bore me to tears .It might be that it I’m harder to scare than then when I was a kid. Or maybe the way to make a truly great horror film is something that Hollywood has lost. Either way, there are a lot of horror movies out that just don’t interest me at all. So in order to find out what I really like in a horror film and to celebrate Halloween, October going to be all horror movies. Let’s start this month off right with a movie that was just recently in theaters and did a lot of things right.
“Don’t Breathe” is the latest film Uruguayan filmmaker Fede Alvarez who broke into the American market with his remake of the cult classic “The Evil Dead.” It follows a group of three young thieves in Detroit. There’s our heroine Rocky (Jane Levy), the obnoxious street thug Money (Daniel Zovatto) and cautious nice guy Alex (Dylan Minnette). The three doing well as Alex’s dad works for a security company and has codes to the houses alarms. However, their fence is short changing them on the stolen goods and Alex insists that they not steal cash as that comes with a higher charge. This is especially bad for Rocky as she’s only stealing to get her and her sister out of Detroit and away from their abusive mother. A sudden windfall comes, when Money learns of a house in a nearly abandoned, part of the city that may be the answer to all their problems. Even better, is that the house only occupant is an old, blind war veteran (Stephen Lang), who recently get a massive cash settlement when his daughter was killed by a rich, drunk driver. What starts out as a simple plan quickly goes to sh#$ when the blind man catches them in the act and proves to be a ruthless badass who’s more than capable of overpowering them with ease. Even worse it that their harmless looking victim has a dark secret that he’ll gladly kill to protect.
I wasn’t planning on seeing “Don’t Breathe” at first as I have been disappointed with most of the recent horror films in theaters. But, I heard good things about “Don’t Breathe” so I decided to give it a shot and I was pleasantly surprised. It’ wasn’t just the fact that “Don’t Breathe” was a good horror movie, but that it was a good slasher movie. For those of you who don’t know, the slasher was a particular brand of horror movie that used to rule the theaters back in the eighties. They were started by classics like “Friday the 13’th” and “A Nightmare on Elm Street” but these days there mostly just a subject of mockery, due to how formulaic their plots became. Tell me if this sounds familiar, a bunch of sexy teens (who are mostly assho%$s) go someplace that has an evil reputation and get killed off by a huge freak until the soul surviving girl (and it’s always a girl) manages to kill the monster and get away. Slasher movies eventually became so dumb that the only reason to watch them was so you could root against the stupid teens. Fortunately, while “Don’t Breathe” has teens running from a killer, it avoids the other pitfalls of slashers.
The cast of “Don’t Breath” is what helps separate it from most horror movies. While it does have Money the token jerk, he actually contributes to the plot. More importantly, he does the audience a favor by getting killed off very early (thank God). Even better are Rocky and Alex. Both are likable characters with extremely relatable motivations that help the audience understand them. Even though their way out of poverty involves robbing a crippled veteran. Speaking of him, the blind man (that how he’s listed in the credits) is an excellent antagonist. Stephen Lang is in tremendous shape for his age and every time he and teens fight, he’s so quick and brutal that he seems unstoppable. More impressive is the blind man’s motivation. Most horror movie villains have little to no motivation but the blind man is a huge exception. Even after we learn about his horrible crimes, you can still understand why he did them. In the end, he’s just a broken man that’s trying to find something to live for in a world that’s taken everything from him.
Beyond its excellent characters “Don’t Breath” is a relentlessly tense film. Half the movie had me on the edge of my seat, ready to panic. While “Don’t Breath” has a very brief eighty-eight minute run time, this actually helps it. No scene feels overlong or pointless. While a few parts of the story were difficult to accept, none of it was so bad as to ruin the whole plot. While it’s generally accepted that horror movie sequels are the worst kinds of sequels, “Don’t Breathe” actually made me hope that we get one. The ending perfectly sets up a sequel and it would be great to see a modern movie defeat an age-old trend. If you’re looking for a recent horror movie this Halloween, I’ve got one piece of advice, check out “Don’t Breathe”
Did I like the movie: Yes
Would I watch it again: Yes
Would I buy it: Yes
Things you don’t want to hear from your kids: I’m going to get ice cream or commit a felony. I don’t know, I’ll decide in the car