31 Days of Reviews: Don’t Breathe (2016)

Three people in Detroit make their cash by robbing people’s houses. They think they’ve found their final mark in a blind man who could be hiding hundreds of thousands of dollars in his home. What they don’t know is that he’s hiding more than money, and they’re not prepared for the consequences.

When seeing the previews for Don’t Breathe, I was immediately intrigued. I had just seen the movie Hush, which has a deaf protagonist, so the idea of a movie with a blind antagonist seemed like it was going to be a great concept. There were so many possibilities! I was excited!

In terms of general concept, Don’t Breathe is pretty great. You’ve got an antagonist who is being severely underestimated by the main characters. They think the job will be easy, but they’ve got another thing coming. When I speak about the overall concept, I’m referring to the idea of breaking into a blind man’s house, underestimating his abilities and his military training. The trailers showed a portion of the film where the antagonist plunges the main characters into complete darkness, as a way to even the playing field in a sense. That all seemed awesome to me!

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The characters definitely underestimate the antagonist, not knowing that since he’s been living without sight, his other senses have improved. I found myself saying multiple times through the movie, “He may not be able to see, but he can hear just fine!”

Before the movie really even begins, it is revealed that the antagonist is a war veteran who is always at home. This is up front knowledge, and the main characters break into his home anyway. You may find yourself marveling at how ridiculous of a decision this is. I know I did. In the beginning, it’s hard to really be on their side.

One of the things that really stuck out to me throughout Don’t Breathe was the cinematography. All of the shots and camera motions do a really good job of making you feel confined in this house, just like the main characters. There are some continuous shots that do a great job of showing just how small the space really is. When you pair this with some of the more extreme close ups to increase the tension, it makes for a pretty intense scene.

You may recognize a lot of the faces in Don’t Breathe. The antagonist is played by Stephen Lang (Avatar, Terra Nova, Conan the Barbarian). The three main characters are played by Jane Levy (Evil Dead, Suburgatory), Dylan Minnette (Awake, Goosebumps), and Daniel Zovatto (It Follows, Fear the Walking Dead). Overall, it’s a great cast! They put on some great performances.

Don’t Breathe is directed by Fede Alvarez, who directed the 2013 reboot of Evil Dead. When watching this particular movie, it becomes pretty apparent that Alvarez listened to a lot of the feedback from Evil Dead and incorporated that into this new feature. The housebound film really delivers. I was impressed.

While I was incredibly happy with the majority of the movie, it started to lose me toward the end. It got weird, and I mean really weird. I felt like this made the movie feel awkward, and it took away from the overall level of awesome for me. It made me feel uncomfortable. If you’re the type to be triggered by sexual assault, then you might want to prepare yourself for that if this movie interests you. It starts to redeem itself again before the credits roll, but I just couldn’t forget the weird.

Other than the complaint above, I really liked Don’t Breathe. I thought it was an effective psychological horror film. It was definitely intense from start to finish. It keeps your nerves on end. Don’t Breathe currently has an 88% on Rotten Tomatoes, and the overall consensus is that it’s a pretty solid film. I’ve even seen some talk about how it may have “redefined” the horror genre.

Check out the trailer below! Don’t Breathe may be for you.

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