The “Don’t Breathe” review

I will always remember Fede Alvarez as the guy who brought Evil Dead back from the dead in 2013. This largely unknown Uruguayan Director suddenly cropped up in our radar through the reboot of the Sam Raimi directed, Bruce Campbell starrer Evil Dead franchise which gained a lot of notoreity in the 80s for being horrific for its time. But if you go back and watch it again, you’ll probably find it laughable unlike The Exorcist which remains a classic even today. Alvarez gave Evil Dead the much needed treatment that it deserved and gave us one of the best made horror movies in a long time.

Alvarez gave Evil Dead the much needed treatment that it deserved and gave us one of the best made horror movies in a long time.

In a departure from his Hollywood debut, Alvarez’s Don’t Breathe plays on a completely different kind of horror. Based in the dying city of Detroit, the story revolves around three 20-somethings Alex, Money and Rocky who are skilled burglars. Alex (played by Dylan Minnette) has access to security alarm codes around the city through his dad’s security company’s database. Without any security system to stop them, they easily enter empty homes and steal whatever they can, selling them to pawn-brokers or dealers for cash. Although Alex comes from a good household, Rocky and Money have seen their share of hard times. Rocky (played by Jane Levy)  and her little sister live with their foster parents who are junkies and barely care for their well-being. Rocky and Money have a dream to earn enough so that they can get rid of this everyday drudgery and live in sunny California.

One fateful day Money (played by Daniel Zovatto) puts forth a plan which may very well be the last job they might ever have to do. He explains to the others that he has come to know about a house which is occupied by an old veteran whose daughter had died in a car accident for which he had been paid a sizable six-figure settlement. He also adds that the old man probably has a safe with all that money stowed away in that same house. As they consider such attractive stakes, a plan begins to form. What seems like a standard hit, becomes even easier when they see that the old man is in fact blind. 

Little do they know that things are about to go horribly wrong… 

polgars-packard-plant
Detroit’s gloom pervades your psyche even before the story has begun

Don’t Breathe utilizes atmospherics and camera techniques to perfection! As we keep iterating, horror is not defined by supernatural phenomena or sudden loud noises. The essence of horror lies in a pervading sense of unsettling abnormality in the most normal of situations. Alvarez’s portrayal of a Detroit which is decaying and falling apart creates a feeling of gloom and despair in your mind from the very beginning. You see graffiti-lined ruins and streets covered in wild grass almost to a point of anarchy. Here lies a world which has been forgotten and left to die in its own wake. The fluid screenplay takes you from one unexpected moment to another without the loud announcement of jarring sound…and it works! You have no sound-aid to prepare you for the next shot and you are caught completely unaware literally holding your breath. Subtle movie name people!   

Stephen Lang
Stephen Lang stars in Screen Gems’ horror-thriller DON’T BREATHE.

Stephen Lang is terrific as the blind veteran. His personality fleets between a broken old man to a driven maniac who is not impeded by his handicap at all. His enormous presence moves like a ghost through the house terrorizing us even when he is not trying to. Alvarez’s accurate choreography of the cat and mouse game between the old man and the burglars keeps you gripped to your seats as if it were you who were trapped in that house. Although you know that on a moral level, its the old man who is the victim here, you keep taking the burglars’ side just for the fact that the house and its lone inhabitant unsettle you to the core. 

Alvarez has once again proved that he is a master of terror. When on one hand James Wan tells a story which is heart warming at times with a supernatural element, Alvarez is uncompromisingly brutal in his visualization of horror.

Alvarez has once again proved that he is a master of terror. When on one hand James Wan tells a story which is heart warming at times with a supernatural element, Alvarez is uncompromisingly brutal in his visualization of horror. 

Indian screenings usually have two acts for a film with an interval in between. When the screen went blank for the interval this time, people around me sat frozen, barely making a sound. They got so conditioned to holding their breath in the first 60 minutes that they sat entranced, as if begging for the director’s approval to take a break. That’s respect! 

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to call Alvarez the Hitchcock of our age. Holding our breaths until the next one…

gobblscore: 7.5/10

gobblpoint: Some of the best suspense we have seen in a long time. If you are an adrenaline junkie, you are in for a treat ! 

 

Disclaimer: The images used in this post are the sole property of the makers of this film and are not owned by us in any form whatsoever. 


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