By Liz Lopez

Rating: B –

I remember viewing Director Fede Alvarez’s first feature at SXSW three years ago, the Evil Dead remake, and I certainly admired his skill with the genre film. Alvarez returned to SXSW Film Festival this past March with his new feature he directed and wrote with Rodo Sayagues, Don’t Breathe, in the Midnighters category and there has been quite a buzz ever since. Unfortunately, I missed the film at the festival, but viewed it in time for the theatrical release today. This home invasion thriller is intense in many scenes and despite thinking that “another” home invasion film might be predictable, the filmmakers provide just enough twists to keep you engaged throughout the film. The harsh scenes are relentless and often times thought I couldn’t breathe as I viewed the perilous action, one right after the other. While I may not think this film is a “horror” film, there are no doubt horrendous scenes of violence throughout the film that support this film having an R rating. The most impressive performance in this film is by veteran actor Stephen Lang (Avatar, Gridlocked) conveying his character’s actions with  mostly physical action and limited dialogue. 

Set in Detroit, the “Motor City” where so much was lost by local residents as we’ve seen in the news, the three protagonists, Alex (Dylan Minnette), Rocky (Jane Levy), and her “boyfriend”, Money (Daniel Zovatto), obviously have different motivations for conducting home invasions as their source of income. Alex provides the details for the homes to target because his father has a security company. Although appearing a bit reluctant to participate, his feelings for Rocky keep him in the group in order to help her escape the horrors of living at home with her mother and providing a better life for her daughter. The louse of a boyfriend is of no help and just likes the “high” of breaking and entering.

Breaking into a blind military veteran’s house (Lang) is not on Alex’s list of residences to invade, but Money is determined and the supposed potential cash stashed away is what drives Rocky to do what is needed. What they believe is an “easy” take is anything from that, not knowing The Blind Man’s (Lang) skills, as well as those of his Rottweiler. They have no clue what else is stashed in the home and why he values the goods so much.

Don’t Breathe was filmed in Hungary and the ruins in Detroit that actually provide an insight of how economically deprived the area is where the blind vet resides. The film is produced by Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert and Alvarez, and co-producers are Kelli Konop and Sayagues. Props are due to the camera man, Pedro Luque; the three editors and great music by Roque Banos.

The running time for this film is 88 minutes, but while watching it the cat and mouse activity in such tight quarters, I felt it was an eternity. This is a great summer’s-end film to catch!

Source: SXSW, Sony Pictures Entertainment

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