It’s never a good idea to underestimate the impaired, especially if said person is a blind man who happens to be an Army veteran with a dark secret. Horror suspense thriller Don’t Breathe turns the tables by having a couple of burglars become the victims to the old man they’re trying to rob. It’s suspense at its finest and will audibly make you gasp in surprise and disgust.
Rocky (Jane Levy), Alex (Dylan Minnette), and Money (Daniel Zovatto) have made a living robbing houses, and they’ve been pretty successful at it thanks in part because Alex’s dad works for a home security company, and they’re able to sneak the keys and codes to specific houses without anyone catching on. Their payoffs have been small time up until now, but Rocky wants to get out of Detroit and take her younger sister to California so they decide to do one last big heist before skipping town. Thanks to a tip, their target is an old blind veteran (Stephen Lang) who received a hefty settlement in a lawsuit. After a quick scope of the neighborhood, the three believe it’ll be an easy job. But this is one old man who harbors a dark secret that will make them regret breaking into the wrong house.
Don’t Breathe is a refreshing horror film that doesn’t involve aliens, ghosts, or demons, and while there are plenty of jump scares, they’re done in an effective manner. That means no buildup of music right before something happens or completely predictable moments when you know something is about to pop out of the corner. The main source of terror, however, comes in the film’s use of sound.
Since Stephen Lang’s character is blind, he has to rely on sound to find the intruders and having them hide in plain sight (at least from an audience’s perspective) makes the film all the more tense. The suspense builds whenever Lang gets within feet of someone and you know that even the slightest sound will alert him to their presence. It then gets even more intense when he gains the upperhand by shutting off the power in the basement, thereby making Rocky and Alex blind themselves and giving Lang the advantage since they don’t know the layout of his house. The tension is only broken by the absolute brutality of some of the scenes.
As the film progresses you learn that Lang isn’t just some blind old veteran who happens to be good at defending himself. No, he’s a much darker character. Without giving away any spoilers, the film becomes downright disturbing as it reveals his true motives. There aren’t many films that have made me wince from disgust, but Don’t Breathe is one of them. It truly pushes the envelope for shocking moments. Suffice to say, this is a film that people will be talking about for quite some time to come.
I had high expectations going into Don’t Breathe, and they were nearly all met, despite a few flaws. There are a few scenes that are laughably ridiculous and the opening scene unnecessarily spoils a later portion of the film, but for the most part it’s a thrilling and intense ride that will leave you speechless. In a sea of generic horror films, Don’t Breathe is anything but that.