Verdict: 4 / 5
Director Fede Alvarez (of 2013’s Evil Dead) has crafted a taut claustrophobic chiller that delivers real chills and suspense. In Don’t Breathe, no scare goes wasted and the result will actually leave you breathless.
[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hen are horror films actually scary? Probably when they spend the time developing characters rather than cheap scares. Don’t Breathe sets up the stage and delivers a rollercoaster of shockers. Gone are the silly horror tropes that have plagued 90% of the genre. What we have here is a director who understands that jumps scares and eerie music only go so far, the real horror, the real scare is watching people you actually care about trapped without a way out.
Rocky (Jane Levy), together with her two friends, “Money” (Daniel Zovatto) and Alex (Dylan Minnette), rob and vandalize homes protected by a security service run by Alex’s dad. It’s a quick in and out sort of deal where they don’t steal cash and sell off the items they basket. However, when the trio hear about a blind man (Stephen Lang) who received a settlement after the death of his daughter, the crew throw out all the rules and decide to go for the big score. Breaking into the house was hard enough, but getting out becomes a nightmare when they discover that the blind man is an ex-vet. Soon a game of cat and mouse ensues and things take a turn for the worse.
The real star of Don’t Breathe is Stephen Lang. He is incredibly terrifying and intense. As his head tilts to listen and his nose lifts to smell, you can’t help but feel the fear in his prey. Like a monster, he storms up and down the corridors hunting for them as they find refuge in dark corners of the house.
With clever use of camera work, colour and editing techniques, Alvarez toys with the fears of the audience. This is a fine horror film – arguably one of the best of the year.