Saturday, August 27, 2016

Don't Breathe

Year: 2016
Director: Fede Alvarez
Cast: Jane Levy, Stephen Lang, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto

Plot: Three delinquents attempt to rob the house of a blind man, thinking he would be an easy target. As it turns out, he's not.

Review: Don't Breathe is a fresh twist on the home invasion genre, where the invaders aren't really the bad guys, and the owner isn't really a good guy, though in this day and age, who could tell?

Rocky, Alex and Money are three youths from Detroit who rob houses whose owners use Alex's father's security company (that's how they get the access code). Their latest mark is a house in a mostly abandoned neighborhood, where a blind man lives. Word is he has a large stash of cash inside, and thinking he'd be an easy target, they attempt to steal the money. After breaking in though, things go south in a hurry as they discover the blind man is anything but helpless. He's tough, he knows his house better than they do, and he has a secret he's willing to kill for. Oh, and there's also a very mean dog on the premises.

Director Fede Alvarez, who co-wrote the film with Rodo Sayagues, has created a terrific white knuckle thriller that keeps audiences on the edge for most of the film. It starts slowly at first in order for us to get to know our protagonists, but once they break into the blind man's house, the fun begins and it never lets up. Credit goes to Pedro Luque for the great cinematography and Naaman Marshall for the production design on the house's interiors, making it look bigger on the inside than outside.

It's also interesting to note that rooting for a trio of burglars comes easy to us here thanks to the solid script. Rocky is a girl dreaming of taking her little sister away from their neglectful mother and moving to California to start over. Alex is the smart one of the group, who proves to be the most resourceful and usually thinks of the consequences before doing things. Money is the defacto not too bright member here, but he serves his purpose. In contrast, the blind man may seem rather demented (once his secret is revealed), but he too has his reasons and is more grey than black in terms of character.

The four main leads all put in excellent performances, with Stephen Lang proving to be a major badass as the blind man. I'd say he's perfectly cast in the role. Jane Levy and Dylan Minnette put in very solid work too as Rocky and Alex respectively, with Daniel Zovatto doing a good job as Money as well, though his screen time is limited.

Alvarez does make a couple of errors here, mainly in using slow motion and close up shots in certain scenes that would have worked better without them. There are also a few moments where the burglars make some really poor decisions, but it comes with being in this genre I suppose.

Conclusion: if you're looking for some heart stopping entertainment, Don't Breathe is a phenomenal choice. (8/10)

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