Dont Breathe - Heavy Breathing
| Fede Alvarez is a director to watch. From the opening shot of Don't Breathe you know you're watching a good scary movie. Often you can just get that feeling, that you're not about to watching something run of the mill or cookie cutter, that there is an originality to the experience. Alvarez is pretty much responsible for taking this home invasion movie (with a few nasty twists - no spoilers) and making it into a chilling film.
Don't Breathe takes it basic premise, desperate young woman attempts a robbery on a blind veteran and things go wrong, and elevates it. It does a good job of keeping its story tight (just the facts Mame) and getting to its plot beats quickly and naturally. The film falls into a bit of overkill (literally) at the end with a few genre specific cliches (again no spoilers) but Alvarez' deft handling manages to make them acceptable. Don't Breathe had me holding my breath.
I was expecting to be underwhelmed and early on Alvarez' gruesome sensibilities and gorgeous technique engrossed me. I was jumping, my heart was breaking, my heart was racing. This is what a scary movie should do.
Vet character actor Stephen Lang does a starmaking turn as the villain. Don't Breathe risks being a cliche about blind people but it is not. There is never a moment when his blindness reduces him to a caricature or makes you discount him. In fact, it is a threatening asset for a man driven to desperation. One of the strongest pieces of Don't Breathe is the way the characters, in their brief development, are given true backstories, well developed motivations, and three dimensions. None of them are sympathetic, yet all are in a moral grey zone which adds an aura of destabilization to what could have been a more straightforward piece.
Don't Breathe fits solidly into its genre and even pays homage to that a bit by going a bit to far in a few moments. However, it makes up for it with the level of intensity and rawness which feels authentic, and pretty horrifying. A very good scary movie which will make you scream.