If you ever needed a reason to invest in a better home security system, look no further than “Don’t Breathe.”
Directed by Fede Alvarez, whose only other major film credit includes the so-so (SO bloody, SO gory) remake of “Evil Dead.” “Don’t Breathe” introduces a gang of thieves eager to ransack houses for anything that might earn them enough money for a ticket out of their dead-end lives.
Money (Daniel Zovatto) is the muscle behind most of the operations and receives hints on places to rob next.
Rocky (Jane Levy, a breakout from Alvarez’s “Evil Dead”) is a single mother trying to begin her life anew by moving to California with her daughter, while avoiding the vulgar obscenities hurled toward by her own mother.
Alex (Dylan Minnette) helps the pair in their crimes through his extensive knowledge of his father’s home security system company, which the trio frequently cons.
One night, Money gets a tip about a blind army veteran (Stephen Lang) with at least $30,000 in cash stored in his house.
He and Rocky are all for it, but Alex is a little more apprehensive, stating it seems wrong to rob a blind man.
He later agrees to the heist after being convinced by Rocky, whom Alex has a crush on.
The night of the robbery arrives and the thieves make their way into the house, ready to face whatever they may encounter. But the ball is in their court, and this isn’t any normal heist.
“Don’t Breathe” starts with a bang, then puts things on the back burner until time to heat them up again.
The tired home invasion movie trope is turned on its head through a smart script, compelling camera work and gripping tension building.
Issues arise here and there, primarily the incessant need to spell things out for the audience, but the positives generally outweigh the negatives.
Levy’s performance is at the heart of the film, though she may buckle from time to time under the weight of carrying the film. She is backed by equally strong performances from her counterparts, primarily the resilient Minnette.
Somehow, the audience is still rooting for her character, Rocky, by the end of the film.
The shining achievement of this film is the portrayal of its characters as fully rounded and realized individuals who, frankly, aren’t your average horror movie archetypes.
Even when things go absolutely insane (and trust me, they do), the characters never once seem to let the frenzy overtake their minds. They make rational, careful decisions that anyone in this position would make.
The forcible script, combined with interesting cinematography and strong direction work create an atmosphere of pure suspense, causing the audience to feel as though even the slightest noise could spell certain doom for our characters.
“Don’t Breathe” is now playing at Cinemark Towne Centre and is rated R for terror, violence, disturbing content and language, including sexual references.