I’m not overly keen on home invasion movies. Why would I want to see a film about people’s houses being burgled? (Then again, why do I watch horror movies where people are getting murdered? So many questions for therapy!) Don’t Breathe director Fede Alvarez promises a fresh twist on the tired format.
Rocky (Jane Levy), Alex (Dylan Minnette) and Money (Daniel Zovatto) are three friends who burglarize homes but find they’ve met their match when they break into the house of a blind man (Stephen Lang) who won’t take their tresspassing lying down.
Don’t Breathe introduces us to three thieves with varying degrees of likeability and sympathy and a deceptively vulnerable antogonist, forcing the audience to question who we should be rooting for and where our sympathies should lie. It would have been more interesting if the film had kept some ambiguity with this but it soon becomes obvious who is the true villian of the piece is, even if other characters can not whiter than white.
For the first two thirds of the movie the direction is tight and the limited set is contained to one house bringing a claustraphobic atmosphere that is well maintained. Tension is derived from the littlest thing, where a squeak of a shoe or an inhale of breathe can be a deadly error. Alvarez gives us great moments such as a chase in the basment in total blackout. The small cast make the most of their moments with Minnette as the sensible member of the group Alex standing out performance wise and Lang making for an intimadating antagonist.
It’s a shame the last third becomes silly and one scene verges on becoming something much nastier which left a sour note behind. It prevents the movie from being the top notch thriller that it wants to be however it doesn’t undo the previous good work.
(As an aside note I couldn’t help thinking as I was watching Don’t Breathe that this would make for an interesting and contrasting film to the Audrey Hepburn movie Wait Until Dark.)
Rating 3/5 – a tense twist on the home invasion movies decends into silliness in it’s final act