Although the surroundings and action of the film look very familiar, “Don’t Breathe” has a touch of originality and freshness. Fede Alvarez, the director and co-writer of the film, twisted several unwritten rules about ‘slashers’ and ‘home invasion’ films, jumped out of familiar frames, and opened up space for imagination and improvisation.
So Fede Alvarez gave his main character a handicap (blindness) and also replaced the roles of the characters in the movie – the attackers became victims, and the victim became the attacker.
Rocky, Alex and Money are prone to petty crime and have a habit of breaking into people’s homes while away from home. Their next target is a blind war veteran who lives alone in a house in a deserted part of town. However, the old man will prove not to be helpless at all, and their lives will be in danger.
The aforementioned trio of robbers does not seem convincing, but overbearing and immature. Such characterization in the film is quite normal, and it is a little strange to look at them from a completely different perspective from the one we are used to in similar films. On the contrary, it is very interesting and works well. The character of an old man played by the experienced Stephen Lang is also excellent. Although he spoke only a few words in the movie, he seems really scary and he managed to keep a dark, traumatic but also psychotic trait throughout the film.
As the action progresses, the old man become more dangerous and robbers more vulnerable.
Don’t expect intelligence in the movie, but everything else is present. There are a lot of tense scenes whose outcome is reversed in a second. Given that the lead actor is blind, most of the film was shot either in the dark or with dim light, which contributed to the effect of claustrophobia. Claustrophobia is a very important part of the whole story, because it is a matter of captivity and abduction.
The picture is top notch and it’s a wonder how the frames are perfectly furnished. Visibility in almost all scenes is excellent, which is achieved by various light sources (in unnoticeable places) that do not interfere with foreground events. The tension slowly rises throughout the film, accompanied by excellent musical background and with very little dialogue.
At times, Don’t Breathe seems predictable, but numerous twists in the second half of the film successfully break the viewer’s prediction. The atmosphere, ambience and tension of “Don’t Breathe” is reminiscent of “Green Room”, but Alvarez seems to have done a much better job than Saulnier. “Don’t Breathe” is a movie that is definitely worth watching, especially if you are a fan of strained horror thrillers.
What is great about the movie is the tension that is present from the first to the last scene, which is typical and commendable for this genre. The great thing is that every next scene and every next step of the actors is eagerly awaited.
Also, the great thing is that there aren’t really any “good” characters in the movie. Although it seems at first ball that poor Lang is a victim, and that we, as observers, need to “support” , that is not really the case, since he also has little dirty secrets.
Although teenagers are characterized as immoral, lazy and corrupt kids who want to enrich their pockets without sweat, actually they are not at all repulsive and antipathetic.
There are times in the movie when you think that what the characters are doing is quite bad, but at the same time you’re kind of sorry for them, because they really entered to a much bigger problems than they deserve.
This additionally builds up all this uncertainty in the film and forces us to re-examine which of the characters will die and who will not.