SCREEN GEMS / STAGE 6 FILMS (2016)
Director: Fede Alvarez
Starring: Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto, Stephen Lang
Fede Alvarez grabs the home invasion premise and takes us on a journey from the invaders POV, giving us a new, and better, look at the creaking genre. Throw in the fact that the movies bad guy is blind, and there’s a great story to be told here. Eschewing blood and guts for suspense and atmosphere works wonders for the movie, and provides the basis for the solid story to build upon.
The movie starts off quickly and slows down momentarily to provide a quick character backstory before diving straight into the film’s main premise – three professional thieves break into an apparently vulnerable blind man’s home, only to find they're in for a surprise.
With a runtime of 88 minutes this was a welcome decision, leaving the entire film open to build the dread and expand on the characters fear, rather than ramming into the last 20 minutes or so. There’s a lot of silence in the movie as the burglars attempt to tip toe around the angry/scared blind man, which adds to the quiet chaos of the situation – Alvarez uses the silence to great effect throughout, with every small creak or bang sounding like a cannon blast.
Stephen Lang is exceedingly creepy as the weathered blind veteran, his haunted face and dead eyes stalk the house and combined with his eerie creaking voice provides a great horror baddie. Initially portrayed as the victim, the about turn comes fairly quickly. Jane Levy looks tortured and frightened throughout, maybe due to the directors techniques of jolting his actors during takes, but it helped her performance no end and she drove the movie along well. Daniel Zovatto's character, Money, was slightly contrived, but served his purpose for the story.
The third act introduces some gruesome elements and reveals to the movie, and also includes a brilliant scene where all the lights go out. It’s a great use of a simple, tired idea but ramps up the tension when the tables are suddenly turned on the burglars – it also gives us a greater look at the old, weary house the blind man lives in. It’s a more frantic pace compared to the previous acts but thankfully adds to the story and creates a worthwhile ending. We also get a scene that will make you think twice whilst preparing your next turkey meal.
Don’t Breathe excels in being a short, nasty horror movie that packs a punch with every breath that escapes in the silent madness of the house. Turn off the lights, settle in and wait for Stephen Lang to put the scares in your bones.
Just don’t forget to breathe.
December 5th 2016