Following Fede Alvarez’s terrifyingly grisly 2013 “Evil Dead” remake, his first original feature, “Don’t Breathe”, is a home-invasion thriller which proves that the supernatural is not necessary to make you grip your seats in fearful anticipation.
It starts off with a very vivid shot that might have been too much of a spoiler for what’s to come later on in the movie, and then rewinds to follow our lead trio, Rocky (Jane Levy), Alex (Dylan Minnette), and Money (Daniel Zovatto), who live in Motor City, a desolate slump with no prospects. They break into houses of the wealthy to make off with everything valuable that isn’t cash, with Rocky hoping to raise enough funds to leave for sunny California with her younger sister, away from a bleak domestic situation, while her boyfriend, Money, does it mostly for kicks, and Alex, helping rather unwillingly only because of his unrequited love for her.
Things get exciting when a tip off about a blind old war veteran (Stephen Lang) who might have hundreds of thousands in cash stashed at home draws the trio to break into his home, which is already suspicious in itself, with countless locks and bars on windows.
Without giving away too much of the plot, basically the blind man becomes aware that he has uninvited guests around, and things go downhill very fast from there, before the second half takes the movie into much darker territory.
There are lots of jump scares peppered throughout, and keep a lookout in particular for the weird chicken baster scene. There’s also that one especially thrilling scene in this skilfully executed cat-and-mouse game where Alvarez used a special sort of night vision camera that allowed us to follow our protagonists closely as they fumbled around frantically in pitch black darkness.
However, there’s only so many times you can narrowly escape death, and the film comes to a well-timed end before it starts getting repetitive and tiresome. There were a couple of questions marks left at the end of the movie though, such as the mysterious black goo, and more character development could have been done, but the show itself is exciting enough to turn a blind eye (pun intended) to these details.
Compared to Alvarez’s “Evil Dead”, “Don’t Breathe” is a much less gory film, but doesn’t pack any less suspense and fear, and instead brings horror closer to reality than CGI ghosts and demons.
By: Chan Choy Yu