Don't Breathe Review

. All is going well until the crew get to that proverbial 'one big last score'; Money gets wind of [...]

Don't Breathe Movie Reviews
(Photo: Screen Gems)

Short Version: Don't Breathe is a successful horror-genre experiment that's worth seeing, if only for the novelty of the experience.

Don't Breathe tells the story of Rocky (Jane Levy), a young girl trying to trade her Detroit wasteland life for a brighter existence in California with her little sister. To make that dream happen, Rocky starts robbing houses with her boyfriend, Money (Daniel Zovatto), and friendzone admirer, Alex (Dylan Minnette). All is going well until the crew get to that proverbial 'one big last score'; Money gets wind of an old army veteran living in an abandoned section of the city - a man who tragically lost his daughter and was paid large sums of money as compensation.

When the crew surveys the target, they find that the old veteran is actually an old blind veteran; but rather than be deterred, Rocky and Money gain even more resolve to push ahead with the heist. But when the would-be robbers actually enter the old man's house, they quickly discover that all is not as it should be; and when the blind man becomes aware that there are intruders in his home, the crew learns that they are not so much the predators, as they are the prey.

Don't Breathe Movie (Review) 2016
(Photo: Screen Gems )

The latest film by Evil Dead remake director Fede Alvarez, Don't Breathe is a high-concept horror film that absolutely makes the most out of its premise, despite not having much to offer in the way of deeper substance.

Seeing horror visuals is one thing, but Fede Alvarez reminds us (in the tradition films like Brian de Palma's Blow Out) that sound is a much more visceral experience. The genius of Don't Breathe is that it is able to mine great scares out of nothing more than a character's misstep or heavy breathing; dd the smart concept of a villain who is a deadly predator honing in at the slightest sound, and the result is a film where the tension levels are ratcheted up exponentially.

The script by Alvarez and his Evil Dead collaborator Rodo Sayagues is also an efficient series of horror-thriller scenarios, which are smartly constructed and well sequenced, using nothing but the barest essentials: a house with cramped rooms, few hiding spaces, and the always imminent threat of danger. If nothing else, Don't Breathe definitely delivers a non-stop thrill experience, and for most viewers, that will be sufficient return on their dollar.

Don't Breathe (Review) Starring Jane Levy and Stephen Lang
(Photo: Screen Gems)

What will likely matter less, is the fact that the story isn't much of one at all, set on the rocky foundation of vague character backstories and motivations. While the second act cat and mouse game is fantastic, a third act turn that may be too much for some viewers' tastes (let's just say things get weird, quick). All in all though, the killer is scary enough, and the victims sympathetic enough for the audience to stay invested in the chase.

Helping in the "sell" are good performances from a talented young cast. While Daniel Zovatto's "Money" is a thin caricature, Jane Levy and Dylan Minnette are great as Rocky and Alex, respectively. Levy (Alvarez's leading lady for the Evil Dead remake) gives Rocky suitable hints of backstory and depth, so that she feels like a lead character worth rooting for. The same goes for Alex, who the script underserves, but Minnette fleshes out enough for the audience to care about.

Stephen Lang in Dont Breathe Movie
(Photo: Screen Gems)

Stephen Lang (Avatar) is positively frightening as the Blind Man, swimming through the cramped, dark, halls of the house like a human shark. Lang does the admirable job of taking some thin backstory and creating the best kind of villain: one who isn't just "evil," but rather dementedly misguided (to an extremely sick degree, in this case). The cast are all committed to delivering their parts (the frights or the fear), and the energy is palpable onscreen.

In the end, Don't Breathe is a successful horror-genre experiment that's worth seeing, if only for the novelty of the experience. It's the type of film destined for cult-hit status, and more evidence that Fede Alvarez is a modern horror movie auteur, as he delivers one of the better end-of-summer horror movies to come along in awhile.

Don't Breathe is now in theaters. It is 88 minutes long, and is Rated R for terror, violence, disturbing content, and language including sexual references.