Fede Alvarez does it again. The director of the renowned horror film “Evil Dead,” brings to you a piece of excellence that will have you hold your breath throughout this morality thriller “Don’t Breathe.” It is an exquisite play that plays with the audience’s integrity and the will to do the right thing while conveying the story in such a way that we feel helpless and uneasy the same way that the protagonists on screen do.
Alvarez made a lot of smart decisions in the making of this film and one of these decisions was choosing the right cast. He was really wise to reunite himself with the star of “Evil Dead,” Jane Levy, an actress who is fearless at any given situation, and he was even wiser to cast Stephen Lang, an astounding actor for decades, who brilliantly portrays quite a challenging role here. Alvarez and his team give a remarkable visual representation of the story just by the exquisite sense of geography throughout the film, keeping in mind almost the whole film is a one- setting implementation thriller.
Here is a short insight of the film and what you’re going to expect. The story starts off with the audience getting to know the three protagonists of the film: Rocky (Levy), her boy friend Money (Daniel Zovatto), and wanna-be boyfriend, Alex (Dylan Minnette). These three teen crooks rob houses in the wealthy suburbs in Detroit for some easy cash, however Alex’s dad manages a security company that gives them the access to most of the alarm systems installed in houses they plan to rob, which means a lot less of “breaking” in breaking & entering. Rocky lives in a dump with her innocent sister, corrupt mother, and her mother’s formidable boyfriend.
Since we’re discussing the insights on individual characters of the story, it would be the perfect time to point out one of the drawbacks to this film. The reason many horror films always feel incomplete is because they don’t have a solid background story to build up to an intense climax; rather they’re just a continuity of techniques to give a sense of fear to the audience. This is what distinguished “Don’t Breathe” compared to the other horror films till this point. Even though Alvarez shed a good amount of light on Rocky, and the blind man (Lang) later on, he didn’t give enough insight on Alex and Money and that’s to the film’s disadvantage since the audience was not able to fully understand the character traits that define that specific role. You could feel Alvarez was rushing to the “good part” of the story however the “good part” could have been better if he took time to give an understanding on these two protagonists.
Getting back to the gist of the film, the three teenagers are sick of quickie robberies so they hope for a better job that could possibly change their future and to their luck, Money uncovered an easy gig, which is to steal a good amount of money that sits in a safe in a blind veteran’s house. With this money, Money and Rocky, along with her sister, plan to move away to California in hope for a better life. It seems like an easy job to rob a blind old man who lives alone with the access to his alarm system; what could go wrong?
As mentioned before, the integrity of the audience is at question throughout the film since you wouldn’t opt for teenagers to rob a helpless blind old man. But is he that helpless? The low-level criminals underestimated the blind veteran and that resulted in a not very fruitful situation for Rocky, Alex, and Money. However the moral complexity takes a back seat after a significant plot twist towards the end of the story. Trying to refrain from any spoilers, let’s just say that the blind old man is a definite villain for a very disturbing situation.
Overall this has been a great thriller that you will surely love to watch again and again without losing even a bit of interest every time you watch it. The battle of wills between the protagonists and the antagonists is the headline of the film and the wonderful cinematography creates a frightful atmosphere for the audience to get engaged in. The icing on the cake has to be the various plot twists here and there, which keep you wondering what would happen next and of course have you hold your breath.