Don’t Breathe (2016) Movie Review
Written By: A.C.P
Edited By: Grave Reviews Staff
Director(s): Fede Álvarez
Writers(s): Fede Álvarez, Rodo Sayagues
Producer(s): Fede Álvarez, Sam Raimi, Robert Tapert
Date Released: August 26, 2016
Cast: Jane Levy as Rocky
Stephen Lang as Norman
Dylan Minnette as Alex
Daniel Zovatto as Money
Franciska Törőcsik as Cindy
Emma Bercovici as Diddy
Rating = 3.5/5 Graves
***May contain some spoilers***
Rocky, Money, and Alex are three teenage thieves whose line of work is breaking into houses, stealing valuable objects, and handing them over to a “fence” in exchange for money. They found the opportunity of a lifetime by planning to steal cold cash from Norman Nordstrom. The potential victim is a Gulf War veteran who has become blind and has been granted a settlement fee of $300,000 by Cindy Roberts who killed his daughter in a car crash. The teenagers make the terrible mistake of underestimating the blind man. Their motives, after all, are no match to his.
Technically, this movie is a home invasion thriller, and we get the gore by fighting and beating scenes. We see heads smashed against tables, gunshot wounds and sharp object penetrations, and bodies falling into broken glass. The house is filled with tools and weapons where the characters can get creative. The hide-and-seek element is maximized with the house’s multiple rooms, hallways, and hideouts. In spite of these, the movie does not dwell long on shocking or overly bloody scenes, but more of the thrill of the chase and the survival tactics each of them use.
The Grave Review
What makes this film special compared to a hundred home invasion thrillers out there is its many angles other than the action and the chase, which delivers well with the good casting and sharp use of visuals when it comes to cinematography. The script is simple, concise, and does not try too hard for pathos—just what are needed to be uttered to propel the plot forward. The actors and actresses are able to mold into the roles they portray: Rocky who is desperate to get out of the state to save her sister’s future, hence the dire need for huge money; Alex the conflicted boy; and Money, well, his name says it all. They are able to pull off a sense of moral ambiguity, no clear protragonists and antagonists. Stephen Lang, the actor who plays Norman, gives quite a performance in his perturbing character of a burdened blind man.
The cinematography makes smart use of the dynamics between light and dark, minimal musical scores, and regulated sound effects for shock and tension. The atmosphere of uncertainty and terror is seen in the way darkness seem to always envelope the house, in contrast to the daylight that flooded our screens when Rocky finally escapes. Beams of light are also used to emphasize important items, such as weapons and valuables, and we must admit it’s effectivity in drawing the audience’s focus and speculation. The movie does not overuse jumpscares. Its style, however, is the constant drone of dread to keep the audience on edge.
Don’t Breathe is definitely a rare find in the modern horror genre. It is a combination of minimal casting, appropriately toned-down scriptwriting and music, and a visual design of brightness versus darkness.
For the aforementioned factors, Grave Reviews gives Don’t Breathe (2016) a three and a half graves over five.
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