‘There is nothing a man cannot do once he accepts the fact that there is no God…’
There has been a trend in recent years for sensory deprivation horror. Hush, Bird Box and A Quiet Place all play around in some way with characters that lose the ability to see, hear or talk. As ever with horror, there are other less successful examples and the trope has already become kinda tired. Don’t Breathe is a late addition to this maelstrom of malevolence and, happily, it offers something new and exciting.
Rocky (Jane Levy), Alex (Dylan Minnette) and Money (Daniel Zovatto) are a trio of unscrupulous house burglars who figure that the a blind man (Stephen Lang) living in the middle of nowhere is the perfect target. So far, so unremarkable. The difference is that director Fede Alvarez (Evil Dead) soon turns the story on its head as the hunters become the hunted.
As stated, we have seen sensory deprivation movies before, and we have certainly seen enough home invasion movies. Alvarez keeps things fresh with a significant pivot in the third act. It is this, combined with some of the smaller, nastier inclusions that sets Don’t Breathe apart. This is a tense thriller of a horror movie that is also morally ambiguous enough that you’re not always clear who you should be rooting for. This results in a movie that remains captivating and compelling through to its chilling conclusion.
The actors portraying the young trio of thieves do a good job in convincing as an unconventional crime family but it is Stephen Lang, credited only as The Blind Man, who steals the show. Lang is simultaneously physically imposing, tortured and vulnerable and this combination makes for an antagonist who is both memorable and intimidating.
Alvarez has signed up for a remake of the David Bowie starring classic Labyrinth. On this evidence, that beloved vintage will be in safe hands. Don’t Breathe is quietly one of the best horror films of the year.