Starring: Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Stephan Lang
The once “untitled Fede Alveraze Ghost House Thriller” is now aptly decreed “Don’t Breathe.” I saw this film at South By South West, so there is the risk of festival bias, but that bias is a bit of a moot point. The potential rose coloured glasses put on by SXSW will not muddle the question if “Don’t Breath” is a good movie. The question is ‘how good is “Don’t Breathe?”
“Don’t Breathe” follows three teenagers with a penchant for breaking and entering. As they do enjoy the occasional vandalism, they’re overall goal is financial gain. There’s the empathetic nice guy, Alex (Dylan Minnette), the daring girl with her sights set on the horizon, Rocky (Jane Levy), and the greedy bad boy, Trevor (Sergej Onopko). The plan for their next robbery is a blind man that recently won a huge court settlement. As rough and tumble as these band of thieves are, their process is pretty ingenious. They drug the home owner (and his dog), disengage the security systems, and make sure all doors and windows are unlocked. The one thing they weren’t prepared for is the blind man (Stephan Lang). He’s a gruff war veteran that has kept up with, what must be, an intense workout regimen.
Once they realize they broke into the house of a blind super-solider, their robbery quickly shifts into a brutal fight for survival. Lacking the sense that gives you 70% of your information, The Blind Man is never sure how many assailants there are or how they’re armed. This gives the group the opportunity to hide, but the blind man barricades the doors and windows. It is evident there is something in the house the blind man doesn’t want the authorities to find. As for overpowering him, if the blind man grabs you, you’re pretty much dead. Stephan Lang’s blind man is a brutally powerful character that is efficient and merciless in his execution.
“Don’t Breathe” is an incredibly well crafted thriller. The script may be thirty pages long as the dialog is sparse and the majority of the lines sound something like “Ah shit,” “Run,” or “Lets go!” The lack of dialog isn’t an issue for the anatomy of the tension is so flushed out that fairly silent scenes remain compelling. Also, there’s more in this house than money. It’s a gradual reveal so the stakes are never limited to survival.
Since the majority of this movie is “get out of the house,” there isn’t much room for character exploration or development. As well as they’re performed, the three robbers have little backstory to harken back to. Because of the reliance on action to occupy most of the screen time, there are slight lulls in the pacing. The impact of seeing Rocky thwart danger only to be cast back into peril has a diminishing return. After a while, you become numb to surprise.
All in all, “Don’t Breathe” is so masterfully executed that its quality supersedes its lack of substance. The narrative and character development aren’t bad, but its just not on par with the production quality. The actors, especially Stephan Lang, are charismatic and carry a great deal of sympathy in their performances. No one’s really innocent in “Don’t Breathe,” but no one’s downright evil either. It’s just as easy to root for the blind man as it is the young burglars. In the age where movies can be recorded on phones, it’s nice to see a story focus on the “how” of filmmaking rather than the “why not.”
- I usually spoil movies, but this one isn’t released yet.
- I want to know Lang’s work out regimen and diet. He should also be cable.
- The other pending title was “A Man In The Dark.”
- “Don’t Breathe” is scheduled for an August release.