There are certain movies where you shouldn’t watch the trailer. You should just take the word of someone you trust. Or, in this case, take the word of your cynical neighborhood movie critic. Don’t ruin any moments beforehand, experience them for yourself while watching this movie. Other than reading this review, I suggest you go into Don’t Breathe blind.
And yes, that is a shameful play on words.
Alex (Dylan Minette), Rocky (Jane Levy) and Money (Daniel Zovatto) are three white trash neighborhood kids who break into homes looking for easy scores. Together, they plan to go on one last job in the hopes to rob an old man and walk out wealthy. They expect that the job will go smoothly. It doesn’t.
Don’t Breathe is a crisp 90 minutes. It may be the tightest movie released this year. It’s not just the runtime which contains the tight pacing, but the size of the house where the cast spends the duration of the movie. It all seems so small, but it’s the perfect setting for inescapable terror.
Stephen Lang (Avatar) plays the old man. He’s a force of nature that should have never been messed with. He has full control of what happens in the house and we have the knowledge that he could be anywhere. These facts make Don’t Breathe terrifying not only for the characters, but for the audience as well. While watching this movie, I couldn’t help but remind myself to relax. The consistency of tension led me to build a stress headache. As these characters try to maneuver this small house, the old man was the equivalent of a great white shark lurking and waiting for them to make a mistake.
Horror flicks need to have the power to unnerve the audience. Jump scares do little more than shock you immediately, but are hollow seconds after. Don’t Breathe has its share of jump scares, but they also advance the plot, while also providing moments where you can finally take a breath. The beauty of Don’t Breathe will be the playback enjoyment. This is the kind of movie that you’ll want to show new groups of people just to watch their reaction to the tension.
Horror audiences have been spoiled with great horror flicks this year with The Witch, Conjuring 2, Under the Shadow and hopefully Blair Witch. Don’t Breathe stays away from the supernatural elements of those movies, but will bring terror regardless. Yes, if you aren’t a horror fan, you may never seek out Don’t Breathe. However, if you give it a chance, you’re in for a ride.
Don’t Breathe is not for everyone. In fact, it’s for a small percentage of movie-going audiences. Yet, if you do love the genre, you’re going to devour this. You’ll be clutching your arm rests, yelling at the characters and facepalming out of frustration every five minutes. Based on the joy and fear I felt, added to the stress headache afterwards, I’d have to give Don’t Breathe an A-.