Don't Breathe

2016-10-14 08:13

What it's about:

A trio of reckless thieves breaks into the house of a wealthy blind man, thinking they’ll get away with the perfect heist. They’re wrong.

What we thought:

From director Fede Alvarez that rebooted cult classic Evil Dead, Don’t Breathe is a wholly original horror movie that isn’t about supernatural entities trying to eat your soul. Instead, it channels a more primal human sense of survival in the face of a prey that turned hunter. Although it won’t give you nightmares, it’s more likely to make you think twice about messing with a blind person.

Three thieves saving up to escape their lives decide to hit a blind man’s house, rumoured to be hoarding thousands of dollars he received from a court settlement. However, the ex-soldier doesn’t take too kindly to intruders, protecting not only his money but something even more precious.

As far as psychological horrors go, Don’t Breathe is a breath of fresh air (Eh? Eh?), where the villain is not some super-powered freak but just a man with a handicap and military experience. At first you don’t blame the guy for they way he deals with the intruders, but the deeper you delve into the house the more you start rooting for the criminals. Stephen Lang, a veteran actor with an infinitely long IMDb page, gives a fantastic performance and turns his vulnerability into a menacing gift. Imagine a twisted Dare Devil.

But any sympathy you may have for him is shoved out of the window in the film’s unnerving portrayal of revenge and female vulnerability. It’s not sexual assault in the strictest definition of the term, which would have been an easy cop out for the writer, but instead they show violation of the female body in a different manner that is still as terrifying, mentally and physically.

The rest of the cast were adequate with no real shining performance. Jane Levy plays her usual eccentric self, although she upped the attitude for the life-or-death scenarios. Her fellow compatriots might as well have been any other in-love-best-friend and bad-boy-too-good-for-her types, and didn’t really mean much except help the heroine and the villain along in their schemes. The villain was the main focus of the scriptwriter/director, and Lang gave psychopath a new name. The rest were just body fodder for the carnage.  

Although there was only so much of people-trying-to-hold-their-breath that one can take, Don’t Breathe had been a sleeper hit in the US, making more than five times back their budget, which was small to begin with. I wouldn’t rank it in my top list of horror movies (I do prefer the more fantastical kind), if you lean more towards the human element of terror, this film will make you very aware of your breathing and racing heart.

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