Don’t Breathe review: Fede Alvarez follows up his redo of Evil Dead with an original genre piece that may just have you doing what its title commands…

Don’t Breathe review by Paul Heath, September 2016.

Don't Breathe review

Original thrillers, those of quality anyway, are pretty thin on the ground these days. Occasionally something will come along that will blows you away, but it’s been a little disappointing of late. Bordering on horror, Evil Dead helmer Fede Alvarez‘s latest is a departure from his big Hollywood debut, this time leaving the supernatural world for a thriller featuring a minimal cast and an absolute bastard of an antagonist.

Don’t Breathe tells the story of three young inhabitants of a Detroit suburb –  Rocky (Jane Levy), Alex (Dylan Minnette) and Money (Daniel Zovatto). The three are introduced to us in the middle of a home robbery where they set about a property stealing expensive items after retrieving a stolen alarm code from Alex’s father’s home security business. With the owners out and the alarm silenced, the trio are careful not to steal anything too expensive, specifically no more than $10,000 in value, as that would see them sentenced to a lot more jail time if they were to be caught. Obviously achieving success by carrying out these smaller crimes, their hunger for more increases and Money gets a tip off of a local man sitting on a nest egg of more than $300,000, which, if they could get their hands on it, would set them all up for life and get Rocky away from her abusive family and to a new life in California. The target is an unnamed war veteran who lives alone in a nice house in a run-down part of town. The visually impaired chap, played expertly by Stephen Lang, has lost a daughter and now lives a life of self-imposed solitary confinement, and realising their massive opportunity, Rocky, Alex and Money set about attempting to relieve the Blind Man of his small fortune. If only they knew what they were up against.

Don't Breathe review

Don’t Breathe arrives on these shores following an impressive Stateside debut. The film has managed to pull in over $50 million with a full Labor Day weekend still to go. From a $9 million budget, that’s quite impressive, but while these kind of well-placed, lower budgeted genre pics are always profitable, their quality differs sizeably.

Don’t Breathe is actually very good. Drawing influence from home invasion genre movies and mixing it in with a bit of Blind Fury (a much overlooked Rutger Hauer movie from the late-eighties), this jumpy horror thriller is a refreshing beat change in a summer of absolute tosh. Fede Alvarez uses many familiar tricks in his second major Hollywood outing and is slowly defining himself as a huge voice in the genre, emulating the likes of Leigh Whannell and James Wan who have crafted similar efforts in the last decade or so.

The pace is brisk, the action unrelenting – often frightening and always gripping. Stephen Lang gets a well-deserved lead as the unnamed Blind Man, relishing his role in every frame. Daniel Zovatto and Dylan Minnette firmly support and Jane Levy (Mia in Evil Dead – below) provides a solid female protagonist as the tortured Rocky.

Don't Breathe review

Some may baulk at its subject matter and some of its genre cliches, but Don’t Breathe is genuinely a taut, intensely gripping, pant-wetting experience of a film. A thriller which’ll have you on the edge of your seat and holding you breathe from the start to the baffling, unbelievably shocking climax.

Definitely not one for the faint of heart, Dont Breathe is a claustrophobic corker and a possible future classic.

Don’t Breathe review by Paul Heath, September 2016.

Don’t Breathe is released in UK cinemas on Friday 9th September.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Overall