Uruguayan director Fede Alvarez [who gained popularity through his underwhelming debut feature which happened to be the reboot of the Sam Raimi classic ‘Evil Dead’] returns strongly and leaves a lasting impression with the home-invasion thriller “Don’t Breathe”. It is about a group of three thieves who wanna fulfill their American dream of making big money and moving to a big city. In order for this to happen though, the trio must rob the house of a blind man [played to the hilt by Stephen Lang of ‘Avatar’].
The proceedings that take place over the course of that one night actually take up a bulk of the film and this is precisely where the writer/director has shown immense potential in thrilling, terrifying and shocking the viewer. “Don’t Breathe” isn’t a film that relies purely on jump scares but the few ones present are placed at apt junctures and bring in the required impact. The atmosphere is spine-chilling, set mostly within the confines of a house that is located quite far away from the bustling city in a crumbling uninhabited neighborhood, so we the audience are told in advance that noise is not going to gather any public attention. But hey, the ‘blind man’ in the house isn’t a weakling either. He’s aroused quickly by even the quaintest of creaks or the sound of exhaling breath. What happens when he springs into action to defend himself and the reveal of a certain personal mystery regarding the blind dude apart from the money that the trio want to get their hands on, is played out in sixty-plus minutes of totally ruthless, claustrophobia-inducing frenzy. Stephen Lang is nothing short of tremendous, and plays the ‘blind man’ in near-flawless fashion. The guy’s got amazing screen-presence. The trio played by Jane Levy [of the ‘Evil Dead’ reboot], Dylan Minnette [of ‘Goosebumps’] and Daniel Zovatto [of ‘It Follows’] are quite impressive as well with the former two occupying more screen-time [due to the nature of the screenplay!].
The cinematography is solid [close-up shots in the pitch-dark portion stood out!] and although this is a film that involves a lot of physicality, and perspective-juggling, Pedro Luque handles it brilliantly [no shaky cam!]. The storyline is not something that is completely original; if you simply go through the synopsis, you are bound to feel as if this film could be a cliche-filled exercise in torture-porn [ a relentless rehash of the magnificent Jeremy Saulnier thriller ‘Green Room’, offering cheap thrills like in ‘The Collector’ and bucketfuls of gore like in ‘Saw’.] but Fede Alvarez gives you a completely engaging cinematic piece that tries to bend the viewers’ minds in the quirkiest ways possible. The Sound and Editorial department deserve special praise.
Once the trio breaks into the house, the viewer is constantly kept on the edge of the seat largely owing to the excellent performances, a screenplay that is determined to shell out thrill after thrill after thrill [maybe a few loopholes here and there but doesn’t matter], fantastic sound design and some clever direction. Honestly, I did not find Fede’s ‘Evil Dead’ reboot impressive at all [felt that the shock value was less dependent on characters or atmosphere but on excessive gore-spill], so I did not have really high expectations about this flick. This time however, it’s a completely different scenario. Along with Mike Flanagan and Dan Trachtenberg, Fede Alvarez is going to occupy a spot on my list of favorite thriller directors of this year.
The less you know about the movie, the better. Enjoy this R-rated thriller in the theaters and get your adrenaline pumping to good effect!
Watch the trailer here [if you please!]: