'Don't Breathe' review: Home-invasion thriller packs a punch
This image released by Sony Pictures shows Jane Levy, left, and Dylan Minnette in a scene from "Don't Breathe."
- Starring: Stephen Lang, Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto
- Directed by: Fede Alvarez
- Written by: Fede Alvarez, Rodo Sayagues
- Duration: 88 minutes
The home invasion thriller Don’t Breathe might just be the first movie of the year that’ll make you want to do exactly what the title says.
Like any great roller-coaster, director Fede Alvarez (who helmed 2010’s The Evil Dead remake) sets things in motion fairly quickly. Three pals in Detroit break into rich people’s homes looking for easy scores.
With California in their sights, the ringleader, Money (Daniel Zovatto), has a quick fix for their money woes – rob a blind guy who lives alone with his bloodthirsty dog in a rundown house. The prize? A $300,000 cash settlement he collected after his daughter was run over.
“The whole neighbourhood is gone,” Money tells his cohorts. “He’s the last man standing.”
After some reluctance from Alex (Dylan Minette), who helps Money and Rocky (Jane Levy) enter people’s homes using the info from his dad's security company, the trio sets their plan into motion.
And the fact that their target is a blind military vet (Stephen Lang) makes no shred of difference.
“Just ‘cause he’s blind doesn’t make him a saint,” Money quips.
From here, Don’t Breathe descends into claustrophobic edge-of-your-seat horror. Alvarez’ opening tracking shot inside the house will have you shrinking back into your seat because – and remember it’s a roller-coaster – we know from here on out, it’s downhill.
The twists and turns that ensue will throw moviegoers for a loop (I counted three fake scares during the whole film, which is not bad). At first, you might be inclined to be sympathetic to the blind vet, but after he mercilessly dispatches Money, it’s clear that the three, wait make that two, are in over their head.
As Rocky and Alex stealthy try to make their way out, a cat-and-mouse game begins. Figuring their best escape plan (with the money no doubt) is through the basement. That’s where they make a gruesome discovery, which we won’t spoil here. But let’s just say any empathy you might feel for the vet goes right out the window as soon as the kids go down those stairs.
Now, here’s the part where we advise you that if you’re looking to float Don’t Breathe as a date night option this weekend, please be advised that the film is violent, sometimes graphically so.
At just shy of 90 minutes, Alvarez does a great job of throwing curveballs at Rocky and Alex as they try to escape. But as it nears the end, Don’t Breathe loses its way. Of course, the cellphones run out of juice. Inexplicably no one hears the sounds of screams and gunfire (really, is the house that isolated?) and some of the characters seem to not want to stay dead. And the dog, who is chained up at the beginning manages to free himself to wreak all sorts of havoc. Funny how that happens, eh?
Still, if you’re looking to escape the heat with some late-summer thrills, Don’t Breathe will leave you mostly thrilled.
Just like a great roller-coaster.