Don’t Breathe is a formula horror story done in a nonformula way. I can see your head scratching and question marks. Logic says it can’t be both but in this case it is true. The film’s unique villain is how formula slides into nonformula.
This is why I urge you to do no research on Don’t Breathe before buying a ticket. The less you know, the bigger the surprise. Except it’s not really a surprise. That takes us back to the kind discussion we had a few sentences ago.
When you see Don’t Breathe, all of this will make sense.
Here’s the set up. An unhappy young man borrows the keys to homes managed by his dad’s security company. He and two friends burgle them. Then he puts back the keys. No one is the wiser. One day, the leader of the trio gets the idea to rob a blind guy on a semi-deserted street. He just picked up a settlement of several thousand dollars and doesn’t have a bank. So the money is in the house. Easy pickings.
It’s the “not” that makes Don’t Breathe a very well done, unconventional horror story. What the three young people find in the house is unbelievably frightening and quite different.
Don’t Breathe is co-written by Fede Alvarez and Rodo Sayagues and is directed by Alvarez. They did the remake of Evil Dead in 2013 and picked up the film’s star Jane Levy to play the lead in this one. Dylan Minnette (Goosebumps) is one of her two pals, and mostly unknown Daniel Sovato is the third member of the trio.
Character actor Stephen Lang is the blind guy. Go to the web for a photo, and you’ll go, “Ah, ha! I know who he is.”
Alvarez’s film — as I noted — runs pretty much like every run-of-the-mill horror movie. It’s how he sets up the crisis and the villain the characters discover inside the home that makes his movie so interesting. This is especially true if you know almost nothing about it before buying a ticket.
The twisted minds of the two writers come up with scenes that are nail-biting intense. A couple of them are — unlike standard horror fare — not only intense, but very creative. Although you’re not supposed to smile in a horror movie that’s not intended to be funny, a couple of scenes had me smiling, and one is so clever it managed to pop out a laugh.
No, this one won’t have you holding your breath, but it is a fresh breath of horror movie air. And like most of the genre, it’s going to do well at the box office. So look for a sequel.
Director: Fede Alvarez
Stars: Stephen Lang, Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto
Mr. Movie rating: 4 stars
Rated R for mature themes, language, violence. It’s playing at the Carmike 12, the Fairchild Cinemas 12 and Queensgate 12 and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen.
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it’s your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 stars to 1 star: Don’t bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.