Release Date: August 26, 2016
Directors: Fede Alvarez
Writer: Fede Alvarez, Rodo Sayagues
Cast: Stephen Lang, Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto, Emma Bercovici, Franciska Torocsik, Christian Zagia, Katia Bokor, Sergej Onopko, Olivia Gillies, Dayna Clark, Jimmie Chiappelli, Jane May Graves, Michael Hasse, Brak Little
MPAA Rating: R
Runtime: 88 minutes
Production Company: Ghost House Pictures, Good Universe, Screen Gems, Stage 6 Films, Sony Pictures Releasing
Genre: Horror, Thriller
A studio will spend a few hundred million dollars on a project, not caring at all about the quality of the film but instead only profit. A majority of the time this model delivers a dribbled mess of a film that only spews out visual noise. The only objective being to try and trick you and convince you that the material is good, instead of actually containing substance. Of course that’s a horrible approach, and sometimes what’s considered small can have the greatest impact. If only the same tender, love, and care that was given to smaller productions like Don’t Breathe was given to larger properties. The film industry would be booming instead of seeing declining sales. Don’t Breathe sets a new example of taking what you have and making the best out of it. In such a small space, one of the best suspense thrillers ever has been brought to life. It will literally have you at the edge of your seat, guessing every second on what the final outcome will be.
I can’t remember the last time an audience was engaged so furiously together watching a film. This is the type of entertainment you go see opening night with the theater packed to the rim. The full auditorium makes the experience feel that more invigorating. The title speaks volumes, as it has a literal sense of survival. It’s hard to think of a better title in recent years that had everything to do with the plot moving the story. Due to this, it takes audience involvement to a superior level than most films that have come before it. There are not too many times where briefly talking through a film may be permitted, because you’re that eager for the characters to survive.
It’s interesting how the film asked for, or at least tries to ask for, your sympathy towards the characters, as well. Rocky (Jane Levy) is a loving mother trying to create a better world for her daughter. So as the synopsis suggests, the main leads are breaking into a house to steal. So one may think they deserve what’s coming. So should we feel sorry for said characters regarding their outcome? It’s a question that’s hard to answer, which is what makes the film so great. Within Don’t Breathe there are no protagonists or antagonists. It’s just a group of people together working out their next moves. While the leads are robbers, The Blind Man (Stephen Lang) has his own demons he’s trying to settle; which makes the tension rise even higher.
The word tension doesn’t even scratch the surface to describe what’s happening within this film. The sequence of events to create terror are outstanding. Such a simple premise has been constructed into a form of art that should be a textbook example of filmmaking. Earlier I spoke of the little things that make the film pop, which ranges from an incredible score/soundtrack and the movement with the camera revealing certain shots to a decision to cut the lights off and have the characters as blind as the blind man. What the screen did visually to bring this to life was remarkable. With that, combined with eerie sound effects and wood cracking with each step, an audience member couldn’t ask for more. After every turn a new obstacle would present itself to be overcome, and another list of road blocks would make it even harder.
As most horror/suspense thrillers go, there can sometimes be a character that makes idiotic decisions. There’s no difference here, but it doesn’t ruin the film. There may be a couple of times where you’re screaming at the screen for someone to run or keep swinging their weapon, but they’re little run-offs that don’t slow the film down too much. Having low expectations, Don’t Breathe is one of the best films of the year, and one of the best suspense thrillers I’ve seen in a long time. It just goes to show that a huge budget isn’t necessary to provide quality entertainment. Patience, hard work, a great script, and a humble attitude towards the material is all that’s needed to make greatness. Director Fede Alvarez appreciated what tools he had, instead of taking things for granted just to get the audience’s dollars, and put together a near masterpiece.