Don’t Breathe

Don’t Breathe is the new film from director Fede Alvarez, and it has blown up everywhere. For those who may not be familiar, Alvarez directed the remake of The Evil Dead (2013). And for someone who hates the idea of horror remakes, I was really surprised at how good it was. But now Alvarez is in his own court, and wants to prove that he can make his own production. Will he have the same results second time around?

Rocky (Jane Levy), Alex (Dylan Minnette) and Money (Daniel Zovatto) are three friends who survive in Detroit by breaking into people’s houses. Through their resources they hear about an Army veteran whose daughter was killed in a hit and run. And in the ensuing court cases, the family of the driver granted him $300,000. When they scope out the house, they realise that the man is blind. Thinking the break-in will be nothing but a walk in the park, the three friends decide to break in. Little do they realise that the old man is cleverer than they think, and they are in for one hell of a night.

The film in general had to be one of the most intense cinematic experiences I’ve had in a while. Alvarez wanted to set out to prove that he could make an edge of your seat thrill ride, and quite frankly he delivered. The performance of Jane Levy has garnered much acclaim and it is rightfully deserved. But also for Stephen Lang who portrays the blind man. Lang has such a domineering presence in nearly everything he is in. But this performance is much more callous and threatening than what we have witnessed before.

The camera work has been one of my favourites for a while too. The location of the house in such a run-down area of Detroit brings out solid isolation and dread that it just adds to the impact of the atmosphere. The environment of the home is forever tense as the protagonists and the audience never know what could be set off next. A creak in the floor boards, or being careful not to breathe as their adversary may find them. A single shot take is one to keep an eye out for too. Cinematographer Pedro Luque did a fine job.

Although these are all great things, there were some things that are hard to shake off. There will be noticeable inconsistencies in the plot that will leave you questioning certain areas. This doesn’t take away from the experience of the film itself. But a few times you will be thinking to yourself “Wait…?” And that kind of ruins a few elements because of this.

Bearing that in mind, I was still gripped to my seat when things really kicked off. It was nowhere near as gruesome as Evil Dead, but Don’t Breath still held its own with some intense atmospheric chills. No over reliance on blood, or jump scares, or CGI, the film just worked. Alvarez is in for a very promising future in the horror genre, let’s just hope he remains as consistent in the future.

Don’t Breathe is on general release now

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Part time film maker, writer and film enthusiast based in Dublin.