It is a rare occurrence, but there are times when a new filmmaker pops onto the horror scene and immediately shows tons of promise, simply with only one film. The film I’m specifically referring to is 2013’s Evil Dead, the filmmaker, of course, Fede Alvarez. The man already had two strikes against him — his feature-film debut is a remake (or is it a sequel?) and it just so happened to be a re[quel] of a cult favorite Sam Raimi flick. Even with the odds against him, Alvarez managed to deliver a fantastic film. Well, as I expected, he has done it again with his sophomore effort, Don’t Breathe.
A group of friends (Jane Levy, Evil Dead, Dylan Minnette, Goosebumps, and Daniel Zovatto, It Follows) are looking for a huge score amidst their current string of robberies. After breaking into the home of a blind war veteran, they quickly realize that he is hiding much more than a large sum of money.
I originally saw Don’t Breathe earlier this year, upon its initial theatrical release. The amount of tension that was felt in that theater was palpable; any time one of the characters were silent in hopes of staying hidden from the blind man, the entire theater, too, held their breaths, remaining just as silent. The experience was no different this time around, even in the comfort of my own home. The amount of suspense and tense moments that Fede Alvarez and his talented cast of performers were able to create is uncanny.
The entire cast of this film did a wonderful job in this one. The thieving trio of Rocky, Alex, and Money, played by Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, and Daniel Zovatto, respectively, are very talented individuals and were able to create characters whom, although you may not agree with what they are doing, are extremely personable and relatable in one way or another. Alvarez and co-writer, Rodo Sayagues, developed enough back-story for each character, making the chances of the audience actually caring for them much greater; Each of the three had their own personal reasons (some made more evident after watching the film’s deleted scenes) for doing the things that most people wouldn’t condone (i.e. breaking and entering, stealing, etc.), making for a film that is not simply ‘just another home invasion tale.’
I would be remiss to not comment on the stellar performance of Stephen Lang (Avatar), who played the blind Army vet. Quite frankly, Lang was amazing as a lonely, empty, and subsequently maniacal blind war veteran who starts out as the victim, quickly transforming into the film’s antagonist. I am not too familiar with Lang’s work outside of this film, but I was blown away by his portrayal of a man who has lost everything and has come to the conclusion that “there is no God.”
Every aspect of Don’t Breathe was masterminded and crafted with more care than most genre films today, in my opinion. Everything from the creation of the gritty, secluded house setting to the immersive and creative film score to the beautiful cinematography was executed perfectly. I truly believe that Alvarez and his team are a group of geniuses and now with two fantastic films under their belts, I can’t wait to see more from them.
Don’t Breath is a completely different animal from Alvarez’s Evil Dead. There were no dead[ites] stalking across the screen and there was no relying on endless buckets of blood to carry this film. It is quite simply an innovative and well-planned suspense thriller, and I highly recommend it.
Fede Alvarez is quickly becoming one of my favorite filmmakers and I will continue to support any and every project he works on. I am excited to see what his next film will be and if Jane Levy will return for a third time. By the way, yes, I still want to marry her (see my Evil Dead review, linked earlier). There have been recent rumors that there will be a sequel to this film, which I cannot hope for enough. I’d love to see how they continue the saga of the broken old man, and if they can top this film in any way.
Be sure to pick up your own personal copy of Don’t Breathe, available now on Digital and on DVD and Blu-ray on November 29 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
I give Don’t Breathe 4.5 turkey basters out of 5.