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Movie Review: ‘Don’t Breathe’ is a Terrifying Gasp-Fest

The movie review for Don’t Breathe is here–Can you survive the terror without making a sound?

Horror film Don’t Breathe has all the thrills of a haunted house picture, sans the supernatural elements. There are no ghosts, zombies, vampires or boogeymen that pop out of the shadows to slaughter their victims.

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Stephen Lang is eerie and intimidating in ‘Don’t Breathe.’

The scariest force in the movie is Stephen Lang, best known as the muscle-bound colonel from 2009’s Avatar. Even with the handicap of being a blind veteran, he’s still a terrifying force that could beat the piss out of any living thing in his way. And with the addition of a guard dog, he’s the ultimate slasher villain, putting all those knife-wielding masked killers to shame.

Lang’s character becomes the latest target of a young criminal trio: the security cracking Alex (Dylan Minnette), the small-space-crawling Rocky (Jane Levy) and the brainless gangster muscle Money (Daniel Zovatto). After small acts of robbing houses for goods they can sell, they receive word of a massive pile of cash stashed away in the blind man’s home. If they can pull off this heist, they’ll be set for life and can finally move out of the dumps of Detroit.

A couple of them have their reasons for desiring an escape and are clearly not just in it for the greed (at least Alex and Rocky are not). While they do some research on scoping out the house, they are not prepared for the blind man to be so brutal and crafty with his house of horrors.

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Can the thieves make it out of the house alive?

For the majority of the picture, it’s a survival game of the blind veteran gone mad versus the ill-prepared thieves. When the blind man whips out the gun, everyone attempts to be quiet in hopes that they won’t be noticed. When he starts firing, they scurry towards dark closets and dash into vents, hoping they won’t be caught as they fear for their lives. But who do you root for in this bloody battle?

At first, it’s easy to side with the blind guy defending his home from intruders that want to rob him blind (literally). But as the intruders start venturing deeper into the house and the basement, they discover this man’s warped secret life and that he’s not the feeble disabled resident they thought him to be. Despite being blind, he’s well armed and capable enough to lock the thieves in the house, listen for their position, track them through the halls and beat them to a pulp.

Director Fede Alvarez takes this relatively simple premise and shoots it with a keen eye. When first entering the blind man’s house, Alvarez takes us on a tour where the camera pans around every room, every door and every weapon. He gets most of the visual exposition out of the way with solid camera movement and builds the anticipation for when the violence will erupt.

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Fede Alvarez makes you sympathize (a bit) with the villain in ‘Don’t Breathe.’

Prior to the break-in, Alvarez additionally pieces out information about these characters by showing more than telling. With one simple scene and no dialogue, we learn that Alex’s dad is an employee of a security organization, explaining how he has access to house keys and extensive knowledge of disarming security systems. With a few clever visuals, the tragic story behind the blind man’s psychosis is revealed. Rocky’s desire to run away from home with her little sister does become slightly heavy on dialogue, but rarely drags.

There are a few times where the movie becomes freaky and disgusting to an almost hilarious degree, and yet it never becomes a torture porn picture. Alvarez mentioned that this movie was a bit of a response to the criticism that his Evil Dead reboot was too bloody. And he appears to have done just that with a movie that is low on blood, but overflowing with terror. He realizes we don’t need to see the gory details of a blind man laying waste to intruders; the act itself is frightening enough when staged well.

Read more of this movie review to hear about Don’t Breathe‘s one downfall:

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