Saturday, November 12, 2016

Don't Breathe

   Director Fede Alvarez knocks it out of the ballpark with this nerve-shredding horror flick. He's probably still best known for his Evil Dead non-remake, and while it may have left a fair chunk of it's audiences cold, it's a movie that I found absolutely amazing upon second viewing. So I was deeply interested in this movie when I found out about it. I knew just the basics going in, that it was about a trio of young adults who break into a blind man's home, searching for the massive cash settlement he supposedly has stashed away. Big mistake.

   Don't Breathe could've easily ended up as an adequate-to-good thriller, and just as well, would've been forgotten just as fast as it came. It's so much more though. Don't Breathe is meticulous and relentless in it's effort to shock, thrill, and keep you on the edge of your seat. Like Panic Room, Hush, or The Collector, it's a movie that doesn't stop for anything once it starts. There's no flashback interludes, no cutaways to some middle aged cop trying to figure things out. You're trapped in the unrelenting story with the main characters, and there's no way out.

   Stephen Lang plays the blind man with menacing gusto, and he's absolutely terrifying. The movie organically reveals little relevant details about him as it goes on, eventually painting a full and disturbing picture about his character. Jane Levy, who was also in Evil Dead, plays the main protagonist here, and while she does a fantastic job, I was a bit let down that her character, Rocky's, motivations didn't tie into the main story as integrally as her character, Mia, did in Evil Dead. Mia's drug habit was the cornerstone of that horror flick, but Rocky's motivations in Don't Breathe- while quaint and compelling, are merely bookends for the story.

   As you might expect though, nobody is getting out of a Fede Alvarez movie unscathed. The blind man's house becomes a horrific death-maze where ordinary objects become volatile giveaways, or insane obstacles. Of course he navigates the place with ease, because it's his own house, so even though he's blind, he still manages to get the upper hand, over and over. Every floorboard creak, every hinge squeak, he's on it like a beast. Did I mention he used to be in the military? Oh yeah, this movie just gets worse and worse for it's protagonists. Then, just when you think you know everything up it's sleeve, it throws something else out there.

   The little plot threads that it introduces early on are carried throughout, to often unsettling and gut wrenching ends. Levy, Lang, and the rest of the cast are all great, and they all turn in exceptional performances. I was completely engrossed in Don't Breathe. It's a relentless and nasty little thriller. A locked basement full of dark secrets, lurid thrills, thundering suspense and nail-biting tension. From such a simple premise, Fede Alvarez does great things with this movie. I'm gonna go ahead and check myself into his fan club. Can't wait to add this movie to my personal collection. Fully recommended.

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