Don’t Breathe Review

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Uruguayan director Fede Alvarez came to fame with his excellent remake of Evil Dead back in 2013. Unfortunately, people criticized that Evil Dead had too much blood and focused too much on shocking the audience. Alvarez decided to counter his critics by creating an original film that contained no gore and focused more on the suspense. Three years later, that film would become Don’t Breathe. Does Fede Alvarez successfully quiet his critics or does his response to his Evil Dead critics fall apart?

Yes, Fede Alvarez is able to silence his critics with Don’t Breathe because the film is quite possibly one of the best suspenseful thrillers in recent memory. It a smart film that’s a satisfyingly tense and shocking addition to the home invasion genre.

Don’t Breathe follows a group of young burglars trying to get out of a dilapidated part of Detroit. Rocky, Alex, and “Money” decide that to get out of Detroit they’re going to score the biggest steal yet. What they believe to be an easy score at a blind man’s house turns out to be much worse than they expected.

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Uruguayan screenwriter/director Fede Alvarez is starting to establish himself one of the best directors of suspense work today. With his second feature film, Fede Alvarez put together a carefully constructed exercise in terror with Don’t Breathe. Fede Alvarez and Rodo Sayagues playfully flips the idea of the cat and mouse game by making the crooks become the victims.

Much like Mark Millar’s “Nemesis” poses the question, “what would happen if Batman became a supervillain?” Don’t Breathe poses the question, “what happens if you break into a house with a less skilled Daredevil?” The answer is a gripping, tension-filled thriller. From beginning to end there are a lot of uncomfortable moments to find including a lot of strenuous forced silence and a shocking unfolding of events.

However, it’s incredibly difficult to make crooks likeable. Alvarez and Sayagues try to make their antagonists likeable with heartbreaking back stories, but the most redeemable character’s backstory is never fully fleshed out. Truth be told, all the characters are a little lacking in depth. The story that is told with these characters, though, is that they’re still doing the heist for semi-selfish reasons. Although their reasons are commendable, these characters are not exactly people you root for.

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Despite having unrelatable characters, Fede Alvarez uses a variety of tricks to create an incredibly tense film. The claustrophobic cinematography brings you up close and personal with our heroes’ fear and anxiety. Eventually, their fear becomes your fear and it just works so well. The agile pacing also won’t make you catch your breath either. The entire film will leave you at the edge of your seat.

That’s the magic of Stephen Lang’s performance, he’s just that scary good. He has such a powerful and frightening presence in the film. It’s a terrifying portrayal of what a dangerous hopeless man is capable of.

As much as Lang is the standout, Jane Levy and Dylan Minnette provide excellent performances as well. Jane Levy continues to impress under Fede Alvarez as she’s able to convey a vast range of emotions ranging from ferocious to fearful. Dylan Minnette was easily the most likeable character in the film. He anchors the films with his sincere performance. In addition, both Levy and Minnette are able to give incredible performances despite a lack of dialogue. Their ability to convey the fear and anxiety through their body language is amazing.

Overall, Don’t Breathe is a thrilling film about the dire consequences of making a huge mistake. There may be a few issues with the film, but you’ll easily overlook those flaws when you start to catch your breath at the end of the film.

Rating: 4.5/5 atoms
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