Don’t Breathe

Director: Fede Alvarez
Screenplay: Fede Alvarez, Rodo Sayagues.
Starring: Dylan Minnette, Stephen Lang, Jane Levy, Daniel Zovatto, Emma Bercovici, Franciska Töröcsik.

“There is nothing a man cannot do once he accepts the fact that there is no god”

After a series of horror shorts, director Fede Alvarez was finally given his big break into feature length filmmaking by being tasked with reworking the cult classic horror Evil Dead. This also brought the backing of the original film’s director and star, Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell who took producer duties. It was a huge task for Alvarez to undertake and although it worked for some, it happened to be one of the worst films I had the misfortune to see in 2013. With Don’t Breathe, however, Alvarez has managed to claw back some respect.

Plot: A trio of teens, who make money breaking into people’s homes, target the residence of an old blind man (Stephen Lang). The blind man isn’t as helpless as he seems, though, and what should have been an easy job turns out to be fight for survival.

The premise of Don’t Breathe is a simple one. And sometimes simple is best. Alvarez seems to be aware that all he has to do is set the scene and then let the thrills flow. And for the first half of the film, he does just that. This really is edge of your seat stuff and provides several moments where you take the title of the film quite literally. He doesn’t waste any time in getting down to the nitty gritty and employs an effective fast pace that keeps the tension flowing with ease. This, in turn, lends the film a genuine unpredictability and makes for hugely enjoyable and claustrophobic entertainment.

However, it stretches credulity past the halfway mark and veers off into territory that almost undoes the great build-up work. What was a solid cat-and-mouse thriller, soon descends into macabre and garish horror. Needless to say, it also abandons its tight and simplistic narrative at this point and chooses, instead, to focus on ridiculous and overly convenient plot points. There’s a distinct feeling that the well ran dry and Alvarez had no idea how to bring it to a satisfactory end. That said, it’s well shot and Alvarez certainly handles the set-pieces very well.

Although it’s been marketed as a horror – and it does have elements of this – it’s more of a suspenseful thriller that’s brushed past some horror tropes. If you can forgive the latter half’s incongruous absurdity, then there’s much to recommend it.

Mark Walker

Trivia: Stephen Lang wore contact lenses that greatly restricted his vision, particularly in low light. The other actors, in the scene taking place in the dark, wore lenses that made them look like they had dilated pupils but also greatly restricted their vision.

20 Responses to “Don’t Breathe”

  1. I feel okay about skipping this one.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I must say that I really enjoyed this. You’re right, it’s not a horror, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a blast with it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nice review Mark. It was a lot of fun and did a lot with its very limited premise.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Boat Drinks you mucking Muckers!!

    I liked this one quite a bit even though it had some big plot holes…. oh well!


    Liked by 1 person

  5. Fine review. I would have given it half a star more. In the context of a quick, low-budget and simple thriller this was brilliant executed by the cast and crew. A great little rental if anyone wants some exciting jump scares and twists. And it’s only 85 minutes too!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ll have to rewatch this. I loved loved loved it at the cinemas, but haven’t seen it since. I thought the whole thing was tense as hell, but shit its so long ago I can’t remember much!!

    Definitely better than that Evil Dead remake tho huh?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I didn’t care at all for Evil Dead remake. I thought it was woeful.

      That was much better, though, but I didn’t like the ending. It lists it’s way around that point for me.


  7. I’m with you on this, Mark; it was OK…pretty entertaining for a while and there were some sequences I really liked, such as the dog in the car near the end. I was surprised at how many people really got more out of it though… ultimately it’s nothing new. It has poorly-drawn and barely-believable teenage characters getting offed, and a clear final girl type, so you know what’s going to happen as soon as it all starts going south. Plenty of tension, but that’s not enough for me!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, man. A lot of people really praised this one. I enjoyed it well enough. Good tension, like you say, but by the end it completely fell apart. Reasonably good entertainment, though.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh I am so sorry to hear you disliked his Evil Dead so much – I was actually quite impressed with that one. I liked this one too, though there were flaws. Worth a watch at least.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I happen to think the 2013 Evil Dead was superb, scary, brutal, and announced Alvarez onto the horror scene. Then he followed it up with this, possible my favourite film of the year. Glad to see your opinions are still as wrong as ever! 😉

    Oh, and how the fuck are you? Great to see you still writing. You may remember me from about 2 years ago when I used to write some stuff. Thought I’d just stop by and say ‘hey’ 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • As I live and breathe!!!! I thought I recognised that name from somewhere. You still got that 50 bucks you owe me?

      Great to hear from you, sir. I’m still keeping my hand in with the odd review here and there but don’t network like I used to. It’s too draining trying to do both.

      I see you have a new site name? Is this your third site now? Not counting the DeNiro one you bailed on.

      How’s life you anyway? How the family? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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