Review: Don’t Breathe


In recent years, horror films have been supernatural or super-gory. Gone are the days of a simple horror film that would have audiences on the edge of their seats for 90 minutes straight. Enter director/writer Fede Alvarez and his film Don’t Breathe, a minimalist horror story with maximum scares.

Rocky (Jane Levy), her boyfriend Money (Daniel Zovatto), and their friend Alex (Dylan Minnette) are committing home burglaries around Detroit. Using Alex’s father’s home security company, they’re able to access homes using keys and bypass their security systems.  The group is tired of making a few dollars on and wants a big score so they can get out of Detroit. They’re tipped off about a blind man (Stephen Lang) who received at least $300,000 from a settlement.

The heist should be perfect – get in, get the money, and get out.  It wouldn’t be a horror film if things were that simple.

Unable to find the money, the trio is interrupted by the blind man and learns he’s got a few secrets of his own. Locked in his home, they struggle to find a way out of a padlocked prison.

There are two terrors in this story, the blind man and the house. In a lot of ways, it’s reminiscent of Pac-Man. The group is trapped in a maze and not sure what’s around the corner. Part of the danger is trying to maneuver through an endless maze while being chased, and the only hope for surviving the maze is defeating the ghost. The blind man is one of the ghosts, but A LOT more murderous.  And just like Pac-Man, some ghost are impossible to outrun. Being trapped somewhere is a simple fear to understand, but that doesn’t stop it from being absolutely terrifying.

The young cast of Pac-Man’s, led by Jane Levy, do a fantastic job. They aren’t the faceless victims from the Saw or Final Destination franchises. They all have personalities and motives unique to them. However, the star of the film is Stephen Lang as The Blind Man. He’s a badass blind man, but nothing like Daredevil or even Rutger Hauer’s Nick in 1989’s Blind Fury. He has no special powers, The Blind Man is a military veteran with hands like vice grips. He sniffs and creeps through the house like a wolverine, using every sense he has to compensate for his lack of sight.He’s also unpredictable and unhinged. The Blind Man isn’t a person you can reason or bargain with.  And like a true Pac-Man ghost, he comes out of nowhere.

Outside of a blind man firing a gun, the violence that’s dished out is brutal. The kind of violence that makes people squirm in their seats. There’s a lot of punching, kicking, and people literally fighting for their lives. Some scenes are ruthless enough to make the strongest person cover their eyes.

One of the most intense scenes involves the lights being turned out in the basement. The concept is simple, but the story is so bizarre, anything could happen to anyone, at anytime. For a film with a predictable premise, there’s tons of unpredictable things that happen over the course of 90 minutes. Alvarez does a great job taking a common horror tropes and shifting them into something even more twisted.

Labeling Don’t Breathe as a horror film wouldn’t be false. There are plenty of horror elements to keep audiences on their toes. It also doubles as a thriller. There’s as many mind-blowing moments as there are jump scares. As far horror movies in recent years, the film doesn’t disappoint. It follows cringe-worthy moments with even more cringe. It’ll keep audiences on the edge of their seats and make them think twice about how they treat the blind – and maybe realize Pac-Man isn’t a game, just a yellow circle trapped in a terrifying nightmare.

Grade: B+