With every new release, my disdain for horror films swells with contempt. Lifeless CGI and high production values have reduced this storied genre into a bag of monotonous tricks and repetitious cliches. However, every now and then a great film is released which re-energizes my enthusiasm and hope for the future. For example, last year’s The Witch was a smartly crafted horror film that excelled in immersing the viewer into a true sense of dread. Also, that movie was an example of how powerful a horror film can be when properly crafted with care.
I believe Alfred Hitchcock said it best: “There is no terror in the bang, only the anticipation of it”.
With the release of Don’t Breathe one must wonder if writer/director Fede Alvarez was inspired by the similar 1967 Wait Until Dark, starring Audrey Hepburn. In that film, Hepburn played a blind woman who had to defend herself and her apartment against a murderous thief. While the similarities are there, Don’t Breathe is clearly on it’s own island.
In establishing an older section of Detroit Michigan as the setting, a sense of dread is immediate. By showing decayed homes and broken down cars, Don’t Breathe resonates a deep rooted sadness anyone can relate to.
At the start, we’re introduced to Rocky (Jane Levy), Money (Daniel Zovatto) and Alex (Dylan Minnette). The three are friends who are looking to score cash by robbing the home of a blind man who is apparently rich. The Blind Man (Stephen Lang) is a cantankerous Gulf War veteran who’s lost his eyesight in battle. In their attempt to rob the blind man, they quickly discover everything is not what it seems. From a demonic dog to a sick and twisted basement, Alvarez choice for the antagonist is truly unsettling.
Director Fede Alvarez’s masterful execution of narrative camera techniques and blended sounds really place the viewer on a path of uncertainty. In using the camera as his brush, Alvarez paints a bleak picture by inserting plot devices that foreshadow forthcoming terror.
This is a filmmaker to be excited about.
Rating: 4 stars
A trio of friends break into the house of a wealthy blind man, thinking they’ll get away with the perfect heist. They’re wrong.
Cast: Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto, Stephen Lang
Written by: Fede Alvarez & Rodo Sayagues
Directed by: Fede Alvarez
Produced by: Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert, Fede Alvarez