A brilliantly crafted exercise in sustained tension.
A cleverly conceived flip of the ‘blind victim stalked by psychopath’ scenario seen in Wait Until Dark and Blind Terror, Don’t Breathe is the second feature from Uruguayan filmmaker Fede Alvarez, whose Evil Dead remake was better than it had any right to be.
A trio of teenaged thieves (Jane Levy, Dylan Minette and Daniel Zovatto) break into the home of a blind Gulf War veteran (Stephen Lang) to relieve him of a six-figure sum reportedly stashed there. But the blind man is far from helpless and the intruders soon find themselves trapped and pursued through the dark and decrepit dwelling.
A sightless adversary is far more unpredictable, and has the advantage of operating in darkness, and Alvarez sets up this protracted game of cat and mouse with expert precision, cranking the suspense up to unbearable levels. There’s also the moral quandary of who to root for, with Levy’s character given a sympathetic motive for the criminal deed.
Some critics have invited comparisons to Hitchcock and The Silence of the Lambs, which is a fair call, but horror fans will recognise a big nod to Wes Craven’s The People Under the Stairs, as well as Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury’s French shocker Livid.
When every other horror film is either a remake or a hokey ghost story, Don’t Breathe is exactly what the genre needs right now – a relentless and visceral sucker punch that puts an audience through the wringer.
Essentially an extended chase film set within the confines of an old dark house, Don’t Breathe does venture into some seriously twisted territory with a scene that’s likely to become notorious and a major talking point.
A brilliantly crafted exercise in sustained tension, it’s a nerve-jangling and exhausting experience that will leave you breathless.
In cinemas: September 1, 2016
Starring: Stephen Lang, Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette
Directed by: Fede Alvarez