Starring: Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Stephen Lang
Director: Fede Alvarez
Running Time: 88 mins
Don’t Breathe is an American film about a trio of burglars who set their sights on a secluded house with a fortune hidden inside, but soon find themselves on the receiving end of the wrath of the blind man who lives there.
This is an absolutely brilliant film. Taking strong inspiration from one of my all time favourites, the endlessly intense Wait Until Dark, Don’t Breathe is a breathless and hugely entertaining home invasion thriller that goes one more than what the genre normally offers, featuring a strongly affecting dark atmosphere throughout that lends a real gravity and intrigue to the film, helping it to shake off any unwarranted horror genre labels.
There’s so much that makes Don’t Breathe such an exhilarating watch, but the directing is easily its strongest suit. Throughout, Fede Alvarez manages to keep the film’s feet firmly on the ground, and creates thrills and tension by creating a claustrophobic atmosphere that’s deepend by dark twists throughout the story, rather than reverting to lazy jumpscares and gore.
As such, this is as elegant and impressive a home invasion thriller as they come, with a short but impactful opening ten minutes to set up the characters, then straight into the mess for the remainder of the film, with Alvarez working fantastically in tandem with vibrant and innovative cinematography to create a genuinely exhilarating watch right to the end.
What’s more, however, is that this is so much more than just a claustrophobic horror-thriller, because there’s actually a story at hand that will fully engross you from the opening scene. Along with Alvarez’s brilliantly crafted dark atmosphere, the screenplay is so effective at reinforcing the gravity of the film through some rather dark character exposition early on, the sort that immediately grabs your attention and gives you a reason to care about the protagonists.
And what’s even more interesting is having the trio of burglars as the protagonists. In Wait Until Dark, there was a very clear defined line between the good guys and the bad guys, with Audrey Hepburn’s helpless character being terrorised by two dastardly criminals througjhout, however Don’t Breathe adds a little more dramatic ambiguity into the mix, something that only goes from strength to strength throughout as they come up against a formidable enemy in the blind man who lives in the house.
As a result, I was just as engrossed in this film as I was exhilarated by its suspense and thrills, something that you really don’t see often from this genre.
All in all, the film holds its intrigue and excitement value right up until the end, and with the exception of a final sequence that drags on a little longer than warranted, it proves a massively exciting watch right the way through, furthered by a deeply affecting atmosphere and a very dark story full of depth and intrigue, and that’s why I’m giving Don’t Breathe an 8.1.