Just like the title of the movie, there were several moments in the movie where I caught myself holding my own breath, literally. These were also the moments when I had completely forgotten I was holding nachos in my hands which I was suppposed to eat. That to me is a sign of success of this film– it completely engrossed all of us into the movie. The fact that it’s close to making $21 million in the opening weekend is a testament to the strength and quality of this movie.
We follow the lives of three young people: Money, Alex and Rocky, who are delinquents in a derelict locality of Detroit. To make money, they break into houses (courtesy of Alex’s father security company), pick up items and sell them off. However, this is not enough for Rocky who wants to move to a better area with her little sister.
It so happens that Money finds out about a certain house, which is inhabitated by a lone man, whose own daughter was killed by a car driver, and has a lot of money stashed away that he got from court settlement. It is only later when the trio arrive at this man’s house that they find out he is blind.
The trio thinks their job will be dead easy stealing all that cash from a blind man’s house, but boy oh boy, are they in for a ride or what? What follows is a very intense cat and mouse chase inside the house full of dread and fear.
Money, Rocky and Alex
I absolutely do not need to get into what the rest of the movie is about, for that will spoil your surprise, but I will rant and rave about the sheer genius of it all (I am slightly biased because I am fan of such movies!)
- Don’t Breathe has been executed so skillfully and so beautifully and for that the credit has to go to directed Fede Alvarez (director of Evil Dead remake). The movie may seem like just like any other home invasion movie, but is given such a fresh treatment that it becomes a joy to watch the story unfold. Credit goes to the cinematographer for capturing the essence of the house extremely well– the camera swoops through the vents, between the walls, up the stairs, under the bed– sheer genius.
- There is a big thematic element running throughout the movie that is morality. “If a man accepts that there is no God, then he is free to do anything,” says one character. These are people who are doing bad things and so we question their motives– are their bad actions justified? What makes a person good and what makes a person evil? There are no clear answers as a fine line is not drawn between good and evil. One of the character acts out as a moral compass right from the start of the movie, which makes us question whether he is wrong or right by the end of the movie.
- The major success element of the movie is how it completely drags us into the entire movie- as we follow along with the three young people. We may not be able to relate to them, but we will be screaming out at them to do this or that. We will gasp when we see the blind man bring out a gun. We will hold our breath, not wanting any one to die. We will shift and move around in our seats, trying some way to release this tension.
The movie pays homage to a lot of horror movies– right from The Silence of the Lambs to Panic Room to The People Under the Stairs to so many more. However, Don’t Breathe brings a fresh spin to the genre that nothing feels old or stale.
The tension is high. People in the audience were covering their ears. There are no cheap scare tactics. There are no monsters. There are no aliens. There are no supernatural forces. This is a very real horror kind of movie (ok perhaps not all that real, but somewhat real).
Tight and taut, strong and intense, Don’t Breathe is a movie that will more than please fans of this genre and will creep out those who are new to it.
Oh, also, watch out for that one very disturbing twist in the movie– you will not see that coming from far away.
4.5 out of 5