Don't Breathe

03/06/2017 17:14

Film: Don’t Breathe

Year: 2016

Director: Fede Alvarez

Writer: Fede Alvarez and Rodo Sayagues

Starring: Stephen Lang, Jane Levy and Dylan Minnette



This film is one that I’m not entirely sure what drew me to it. It was either for my sister or I was starting to do year-end lists. It actually could have been thanks to podcasts as well. Regardless, I sought this out right after it came to DVD. I enjoyed that first viewing. It also shocked me where it went. I’m now giving it a rewatch so I can see the sequel in the theater with Jaime. It is also on the Podcast Under the Stairs Summer Challenge for the 2010s as well.

We start with a man walking down a street, dragging a woman by her hair. We see them from above and it makes it tough to make out who either of them are. This image will be revisited later as we figure out what is going on. It then shifts to someone entering a door and an alarm tries to trigger. Before it goes off someone steps in front of it to disarm it with the code. We have three young people who are robbing the place. There is Rocky (Jane Levy). Her boyfriend is a jerk and goes by Money (Daniel Zovatto). There is another guy as well, Alex (Dylan Minnette). They have strict rules to not take cash and what they steal has to be under a certain amount. We also learn that Alex’s father works for the security company.

As they’re leaving, we learn that Rocky and Money are saving up to move to California. Alex has a crush on Rocky, but can’t leave his father behind. From there we see that Rocky has good reason to want to leave. Her mother isn’t great and she is worried about her younger sister growing up in this environment.

Money then meets with a man in a van who tells him about a score. They will have to break their rule, but there is a blind man who lives in a house in an isolated neighborhood. He won a settlement when his daughter was struck by a car. It is supposed to be upward of a million dollars. Alex states he doesn’t want any part of it and goes home. He does have a change of heart and wants to help out of Rocky as well as go with her west.

They canvass the house.. There are a bunch of abandoned buildings around it for blocks. The backdoor has multiple locks on it and they have a remote that will turn off the alarm system. There is a dog and they give it a drug to put it to sleep. They soon realize this guy doesn’t even trust his security company. There are more locks than they have keys to. There is a door into the basement, but it is locked from the inside. Levy sees a window that is small, she thinks that she can get through it. She goes in, giving them access to the house.

As they search around the house, they don’t find anything. Money goes up to the room where the blind man sleeps, he is portrayed by Stephen Lang. A smoke bomb of sorts is used to put him to sleep. It doesn’t work as they planned though. The blind man is drawn downstairs by Money trying to get into the basement, thinking the money is down there. Being blind might be a handicap, but it doesn’t make him any less dangerous. It becomes a fight for survival to get out of the house before it is too late.

That will be where I leave my recap for the movie. Where I want to start is that I think Fede Alvarez, who co-wrote and directed this, has an interesting idea we are playing with here. What makes this movie different is that we have Rocky who we feel bad for. She is stealing as there isn't much for her in Detroit. Her homelife is rough and she doesn’t have much in the way of options. She also is dating Money who reminds me of men her mother would date. Alex is the better option, but she might never realize it. I like that we have this trio who are stealing from the rich. They’re doing something bad, but they also become our heroes.

Going from that idea, I like that we are blurring the lines of who is good and who is bad. I’ve laid our thieves. In the start, you think we have a helpless blind man. He attacks Money, but he is an unlikable character. I think we are supposed to feel for Rocky and Alex. This is even more so with what is found in the basement. To reiterate, we are blurring the lines of who is good and who is bad. Plus we are looking at, how much of the bad can we take?

To dive a bit deeper into the blind man. Having him be unable to see puts him at a disadvantage. What I like though is that we are in his house. He knows where everything is and what is out of place. This is even better in the basement when the lights are turned off. The blind man is a military veteran. If he could see, he would just kill everyone with no problems. I like here that by taking away his sight, it weakens him. His smell and hearing are enhanced which makes for an interesting aspect.

Since I’ve delved into the characters, I’ll go to the acting. Lang is perfect for this role. The first thing I saw him in was Avatar. This character here feels similar to that in that we have a hardened soldier. He is slightly sympathetic in that I feel bad for him as to what happened to his daughter and what happened to the person that hurt her. How far he goes though isn’t good and makes him the true villain. Levy is great as Rocky. I like her and glad that she got her start really in horror. I hope she comes back to the genre. Minnette is good as well. I dislike Zovatto, but I think that is what he is going for with his character so it works. The rest of the cast fit for what was needed.

The other part that I wanted to go into would be the cinematography, effects and the soundtrack. For the former, I think they do some great things there. We get some interesting camera angles and movements. If anything, I think it does get a bit heavy-handed with foreshadowing. I can live with that though. I like simulating the darkness though with characters. It makes it feel like how the blind man handles things. The effects can be brutal at times, I think they work. The blood has good color and consistency. Other than that, much like with how things are shot, I love the use of sounds. A gunshot goes off by a character and their hearing goes out. It is realistic. The rest of the soundtrack also works for what was needed.

So then in conclusion here, this is a solid movie. I liked it the first time that I saw it and it still holds up for me. There are some aspects to the story that don’t work for me. What does work though are establishing these flawed characters and seeing the story play out. I think the acting works there. The cinematography is well done along with the effects and the soundtrack. For me, this is a good movie. I’ll probably not go higher than that, but it works for me for what it is.


My Rating: 8 out of 10