Don’t Breathe (R) ★★★★ by Patty Babin

Jane Levy as (Rocky) in ‘Don’t Breathe’ Photo credit: Screen Gems

Don’t Breathe keeps you breathless and gasping for air.

It has been an extremely long time since there has been a truly scary, jaw-dropping, tormenting and suspenseful horror/thriller. Don’t Breathe, co-written by Fede Alvarez and Rodo Sayagues (directed by Alvarez), is brilliantly crafted and keeps you on edge during the nightmare that three young home invaders/friends encounter when they break into the house of a blind veteran (played by Stephen Lang). Dylan Minnette (Alex), Jane Levy (Rocky) and Daniel Zovatto (Money) think they are at the top of their game with this no- brainer heist. They are pros at what they do, what could possibly go wrong? The man is blind; he lives in the middle of a run-down community, and he is sitting on a stash of cash from a payout for the murder of his late daughter. Is it too good to be true? Yes. It. Is!

A simple premise in the storyline, but there is nothing simple in the execution. This film turns itself on its head more times than you can count. What these three did not take into consideration was that even though the man is blind, he is not dumb and he’s a war veteran. With this come determination, survival skills, and strategic and combat experience. Combine these traits with his emotional state and you have an explosive individual and an even more explosive story. The anxiety you feel as you watch these teens try to detonate this human bomb, is like running through the maze in The Shining but the end is nowhere in sight. Just when you think you can exhale, you inhale even deeper until finally, it ends in an outward gasp or scream with the rest of the audience. I found myself using my sweater as an extra screening device to protect me from the spray of shrapnel. Alvarez does a magnificent job at developing these characters, and his direction is flawless. The characters motives are very ambiguous causing you to like and dislike them equally at different points in the film. One minute they are villains and then next, they are heroes. You will feel the conflict within yourself.

Alvarez got his feet wet with well-known filmmaker Sam Raimi as they revived Raimi’s  classic Evil Dead.  As Alvarez ventured on to his new film, Don’t Breath, he collaborated once again with Raimi and Rob Tapert of Ghost House Pictures. Alvarez co-wrote this suspenseful masterpiece with Rodo Sayagues. This dynamic duo turned it up a notch and added a level of complexity to the film that weaves the aspects of horror and thriller together like a hand-made rug. The horror isn’t always gory, and the thriller isn’t always unrealistic. It is a world created within itself in this house of doom. They brought their A-game to make sure you left the theater asking yourself what just happened. The bar has been set high for films to come. It’s time to say goodbye to the films that go “boo” and hello to those that go BOOM!

The cinematography and lighting is genius. The continuous camera work brilliantly drops you into the space and takes you on a roller coaster thru the house of horrors. These cinematic twists and turns coincide with the story as it leads you from a crisp opening landscape to a dark, shadowy and barely visible terrain. The lack of light and the gray backdrop enhances the tension and suspense. The three friends who once had a clear vision lose sight in more ways than one. It gives true meaning to the phrase “the blind leading the blind.”

The Bottom-Line? Fear not that this film will disappoint you. This is definitely one that you should not wait for VOD. Take advantage of the big screen to encase you in this story, along with the fear and tension from your fellow audience family. If you like a good rush of adrenaline to wash over you as you experience the unexpected, then this film is for you. If you are faint at heart, then you might want to stay home where you’d feel safe.

Cast: Steven Lang (blind man), Dylan Minnette (Alex), Jane Levy (Rocky) and Daniel Zovatto (Money)

Credits: Directed by Fede Alvarez; written by Fede Alvarez and Rodo Sayagues

Studio: Screen Gems

Run Time: 1 hour 28 minutes

Patty Babin© September 2, 2016