Cast: Stephan Lang, Jane Levy
Director: Fede Alvarez
When director Fede Alvarez tells you don’t breathe, he means it. Don’t Breathe is a home invasion thriller. Three teenage robbers break into the home of a blind Iraq war veteran. They think taking money from him will be like taking candy from a child. They don’t count on his rippling biceps, his keen sense of smell and hearing, his home outfitted like an armory and his relentless, righteous rage.
In the beginning, I didn’t like these kids much. I was feeling sorry for this elderly man, protecting his stash of cash. But that didn’t last. Soon, I was watching with my eyes half shut and fervently praying that they make it out with at least a few body parts intact.
Don’t Breathe is brutal and visceral. Alvarez and cinematographer Pedro Luque are mostly working within the confines of the house but the visuals don’t become boring. Every room, corridor and of course the basement holds its own horror. Honestly, I don’t understand why American homes have basements – has anything good ever happened in a basement?
This claustrophobic space becomes a battleground as Rocky, her boyfriend Money and friend Alex, try to escape the wrath of the blind solider. There are some terrifying moments when he is standing right next to them and they are clutching their mouths, trying not to scream or even breathe. Stephen Lang, who you might recognize from Avatar, is superbly scary as the vet. Jane Levy as Rocky provides the right opponent – she’s smart, sympathetic and stubborn. The shock tactics become less effective in the latter half of the film. And of course logic goes for a bit of a toss – despite serious body injuries, no one seems to stay down.
But the genre dictates that you don’t ask too many questions. The only thing that matters is – did you stop breathing? I did.