By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
Writer/director Fede Alvarez (Evil Dead) has taken the premise of home invasion and given it his own inventive spin with his new film Don’t Breathe. Full of shocking and surprising twists, Alvarez’s film is an exercise in intense thrills and taut suspense. My strongest recommendation for seeing this movie is to go into it knowing as few spoilers as possible, because the twists and surprises pay off huge. Alvarez, who co-wrote the screenplay with Rodo Sayagues, has made a thoroughly thrilling and entertaining entry in the home invasion subgenre that will leave audiences breathless and in awe.
Jane Levy stars as Rocky, a teenager who burglarizes homes with her boyfriend Money (Daniel Zovatto) and their more tech savvy buddy Alex (Dylan Minnette). Rocky’s goal is to make enough money so that she and her little sister Diddy (Emma Bercovici) can run away from their negligent parents and start a new life elsewhere. Money gets a tip on an easy target in a mostly isolated neighborhood where a blind man (Stephen Lang) lives alone. This man, who once won a huge settlement from a lawsuit, may live in an old, somewhat rundown home in an abandoned neighborhood, but happens to have the lawsuit money hidden in the house. Desperate for the money they need to leave town, Rocky, Money, and Alex reluctantly agree to take this last, seemingly easy heist, and are in for a big surprise.
I have to say that I am a big fan of this film. I have seen more than a handful of home invasion and bunker flicks, but this one really stands out for defying all expectations. Alvarez and Sayagues deliver a movie that builds up tension and suspense beautifully and then astonishes with their bag of story tricks. I literally left the theater exhausted and over-stimulated at the same time. This movie is an unrelenting, turbulent ride that will have fans of horror and suspense-thrillers applauding.
Alvarez’s minimal approach demands that the actors perform their heart out and they deliver wonderfully. Levy, who impressed me in Alvarez’s last film Evil Dead, delivers another outstanding turn as Rocky. Stephen Lang, a character actor with a lengthy and impressive filmography, offers what probably is his finest performance captured on film as The Blind Man. Lang combines haunting torment and icy fortitude for a fascinating and somewhat disturbing complex character. I was also impressed with Dylan Minnette who portrays the more coy and apprehensive Alex. Daniel Zovatto also performs well as Money, the more brash and arrogant de facto leader of the trio.
My only complaint about the film is one particular moment which is a bit far-fetched and totally unnecessary for the movie. It is yet another device that sets up tension and action, but stretches reality a bit too much. Despite this silly moment, I still love this film very much. I must highly recommend this film for fans of horror and suspense. Fede Alvarez has made another entry in genre flicks that is worthy of praise and acclaim.