Published on August 26th, 2016 | by Don Guillory0
The petty crime trio of Rocky, Alex, and Money make a living from burglarizing homes throughout Detroit. They feel trapped by the poverty and destitution of the area and hope that one big score will allow them to escape their
circumstances. The opportunity appears in the form of a blind, reclusive war veteran living in an abandoned neighborhood. They quickly realize that they have underestimated this man.
Don’t Breathe is filled with tension and has audiences confused as to whether they want the trio to survive the night as they go from being the aggressors to the prey of this man as he defends himself and his home from these invaders.
The film turns the horror/suspense genre around and allows for the audience to feel the tension without being too predictable. You feel as limited as the thieves as they try to escape from the house that they have entered. You feel as though, at any moment, they will be caught, injured, or even killed in this deadly game that the blind man has started with them.
The strength of the film is not in gore or shocking moments, it is in the reality of the fear and anxiety that builds throughout Don’t Breathe. The film allows for depth of the storyline and ability for audiences to find themselves conflicted as to whether or not they should cheer for anyone in the film.
8No one is innocent. Don’t Breathe is multidimensional and does not insult the intelligence of its audience with contrived plots and clichés. The film allows us to realize that monsters exist everywhere, even in the most unassuming places and people.
Second Review by Jason Buck
I watched director Fede Alvarez’ last effort, the Evil Dead reboot, and thought it was… Okay. It turns out I also felt his latest outing Don’t Breathe was… Okay. I’ll skip the films opening sequence, as it’s a bit of foreshadowing that you should see, not read about. As for the rest, if you’ve seen the trailer and any horror movie ever, you don’t really need me to say more, you’ve already figured out the entire plot of the movie. But in case this doesn’t describe you, I’ll continue.
The film opens with our three protagonists, Rocky (Jane Levy), Alex (Dylan Minnette), and Money (Daniel Zovatto) burgling a house. Conveniently they have the key and the override for the security. Their rules are that they don’t take money, and that the total take stays under stay under $10,000. Once they are done, they re-arm the alarm, re-lock the door, break a window to set off the alarm and run. In the car afterwards they have a conversation where we learn that once they’ve hit enough houses, Rocky and Money (who are a couple) are planning to move to California. We also find out that the film takes place in Detroit, which turns out to be a slightly important plot point.
We cut to Alex coming home, and we see why they had the keys and the alarm code – His Dad works for (runs?) a security company. This is all the backstory we get on him. We actually don’t get any backstory on Money. The only real backstory we get is on Rocky. Her Dad left, her Mom blamed her for it, started drinking all the time, and became abusive. They live in a little white trash shit hole with a little girl (it was never clear to me, but I’m assuming it was her sister), and apparently now Mom’s new dirtbag alcoholic boyfriend. Rocky promises to take the girl with her to California. In a later conversation, Alex says he’s joining in on the CA plan. This paragraph literally covers all of the character development for our protagonists, and it’s all right at the beginning of the movie.
Money finds out about a house in one of the ghost town neighborhoods of Detroit. This house is occupied by a lone vet. Some years back, some teenage girl hit his daughter with her car. It happens that her family is rich, and they settle with the vet for “at least 300k”. Rocky asks “You think the money is in the house?”, to which Money replies, “I don’t know, let’s go find out”). Alex of course protests that taking money, particularly in excess of $10,000 is against their rules, but he eventually caves and they decide to go ahead with Money’s plan. Their strategy for casing the house is to set up and iPhone facing it and the road in front of it recording time-lapse video for a couple days. When he plays it back we see that it really is a ghost town. There is absolutely no traffic, vehicular or pedestrian, and they vet never comes out of the house. Of course while they are reviewing this footage, the vet comes out of the house to walk his dog. They see that he is blind (hereby, The Blind Man (Stephen Lang)).
Here’s where it gets really smart (not); They decide to rob the house while The Blind Man is in it. They wait until 2 AM, and then go for it. They feed the dog something that knocks it out, and then discover that while they have the key to one of the locks, The Blind Man has placed three or four more deadbolts on the door (kind of defeats the purpose of the security company have the key in the first place). They check around the side of the house, and see that it is essentially a fortress, save for one little window, which Rocky promptly climbs up to, breaks, crawls in, turns off the alarm, and lets the others in… and here’s where I get to my first major complaint of this movie, but I’ll come back to that. They search the first floor (not very well, since they didn’t find the big safe we shortly find out the money is stored in), all the while making what I thought was a ridiculous amount of noise. Money sneaks upstairs and into the room The Blind Man is sleeping in, and sets off a sort of make-shift gas bomb. He comes running down the stairs announcing, more-or-less at the top of his lungs that he gassed The Blind Man, and that he will be completely unconscious for the duration of the theft. That’s when they notice a door with a padlock and decide that behind that door is where the money must be. Money produces a crowbar, but can’t break the lock. He then produces a gun and fires it at the lock, which breaks it. They are about to go through the door when they hear a creak from the floor, and of course there is The Blind Man, not nearly so unconscious as Money had thought. The Blind Man asks who’s there. Money tells The Blind Man that he’s the only person in the house and that he has a gun. About 30 seconds later The Blind Man has the gun, and we know he’s a badass and that they are in trouble.
That’s the setup, and there’s really nothing else I can tell you about the plot. Mostly because there isn’t much of one, and what little there is, you’ve already seen in every horror/thriller movie ever made. It’s your standard “try to get out of the house alive” movie. So all that would be left would be for me to ruin all of the suspense that is built in by telling you about individual scenes. And the suspense is built well, if predictably. Going back to my first complaint, the problem is that the film seems to go back and forth between The Blind Man having incredible hearing when they need to build suspense, but then act like he’s practically deaf when they don’t. But it does, as I said contain well-built suspense, and plenty of brutality. The cinematography was about as good as you can do for this sort of movie – It’s not going to win any awards, but it’s right for the genre. Stephen Lang gives the only memorable performance, but the others are adequate, with Jane Levy being the best of the them. I would say that there was one truly original scene, and it was almost too gross to take, but I can’t spoil it for you, so you’ll have to see if you can figure out which I am referring to if you choose to watch this film.
If you are looking for a well built horror/thriller experience, don’t care that there is pretty much nothing original about it, and don’t mind that you will know the entire plot of the movie in about the first 10 minutes, check out Don’t Breathe. If any of those things aren’t true, stay away from it.
I give Don’t Breathe 2 out of 5 stars.