Don’t Breathe

4 Stars

Writer/director Fede Alvarez proved more than capable of delivering a solid horror film with plenty of gore with his remake of Evil Dead a few years ago. He manages to go even further with shocking material with his latest film, Don’t Breathe. The film follows a trio that normally breaks into homes to steal small amounts of items. They make a plan for one major heist, targeting a blind man who lives alone in an otherwise abandoned part of Detroit. To their surprise, though, the heist is anything but easy.

Don’t Breathe doesn’t boast an overly complicated concept. What it does well, though, is build suspense. It’s also incredibly violent, and features one particularly graphic and, frankly, gross scene that I’m shocked made it to screens. Not that everything about the film works. The film is largely a giant flashback, with a scene that opens the film somewhat spoiling the direction the film will take. The film also goes to pains to not only make the burglars at least somewhat sympathetic, but make their victim into a bigger villain than them.

The film does benefit from solid casting, though. Jane Levy, the star of Evil Dead, reunites with Alvarez as Rocky, and she’s able to sell sympathy even when the character doesn’t earn it. Dylan Minnette, who seems to largely show up in Disney-related fare, is a smart choice as the conflicted Alex. And Stephen Lang is terrifying as the Blind Man.

This is, quite frankly, not a film for everyone. There’s more than a little disturbing imagery, and some of the more vile aspects of the Blind Man are undeniably discomforting. But it’s also an effective little thriller, and shows that Alvarez has plenty of promise.

Don’t Breathe • Rating: R (for terror, violence, disturbing content, and language including sexual references) • Runtime: 88 minutes • Genre: Horror • Cast: Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto, Stephen Lang • Director: Fede Alvarez • Writers: Fede Alvarez, Rodo Sayagues • Distributor: Screen Gems
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