Friday, January 6, 2017

#2,282. Don't Breathe (2016)

Directed By: Fede Alvarez

Starring: Stephen Lang, Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette

Tag line: "This house looked like an easy target. Until they found what was inside"

Trivia: The film's budget was less than $10 million. 2 months after release it grossed over $140 million

From the makers of 2013’s Evil Dead remake comes a nail-biting, nerve wracking home invasion flick that turns the tables on its protagonists. Tense and terrifying, Don’t Breathe is a tremendous horror film.

For a while now, Rocky (Jane Levy) and her boyfriend Money (Daniel Zovatto), along with good pal Alex (Dylan Minnette), have been breaking into people’s homes and making off with as many valuables as they can carry (because his father works for an alarm company, Eric has access to security codes, which allows the trio to bypass a home’s alarm system and get in and out before the owners know what’s happened).

Thus far, their thieving ways have paid off well, but when Money hears about a new potential victim, a blind man (Stephen Lang) living alone in a deserted Detroit neighborhood with a small fortune hidden in his safe, he and the others decide it’s time to pull one last job, then retire (once they have the cash, Rocky says she intends to leave town for good, and never return). Unfortunately, what should have been an easy score turns into a living nightmare when the so-called “victim” proves more dangerous than any of the would-be crooks imagined.

Directed (and co-written) by Fede Alvarez, Don’t Breathe is a white-knuckle horror film, building suspense from scene to scene in a way that grabs the audience’s attention and never lets it go. Even the jump scares are original; instead of relying on the usual tropes (loud music, rapid editing, etc), Alvarez gets our hearts pumping faster simply by panning to the left or right, showing us something we didn’t expect to see. 

Stephen Lang is quite menacing as the Blind Man, who, despite his condition, is a formidable foe (during a key sequence set in a basement, he even uses his handicap to his advantage). And while both Zovatto and Minnette are solid in their respective roles, it’s Jane Levy who keeps us rooting for the criminals (at one point, we discover why she’s so desperate to say goodbye to Detroit). And even though things do get a bit crazy towards the end of Don’t Breathe, never once was I taken out of the film.

Everything about this movie works, and the filmmakers keep the tension levels running high throughout, never letting us (or its characters) off the hook for a second. It’s for this reason (plus everything listed above) that I consider Don’t Breathe one of the best horror movies that 2016 had to offer.

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