Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Movie Review - Don't Breathe

Don't Breathe (2016)
Starring Stephen Lang, Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, and Daniel Zovatto
Directed by Fede Alvarez

While watching director Fede Alvarez' taut thriller Don't Breathe, I couldn't help but think it was twisted version of the 1967 Audrey Hepburn starrer Wait Until Dark.  In the Hepburn flick, she plays a blind woman being terrorized by men who invade her apartment.  In Don't Breathe, Stephen Lang plays Norman Nordstrom, a blind man whose home is invaded by three twentysomethings hoping for a quick buck.  Rather than be terrorized by the trio, though, Nordstrom fights back.  However, as the three robbers soon come to realize, the blind man is no innocent bystander and instead harbors some sick secrets.

While pretty much everyone in Don't Breathe has less than stellar morals, the film is ultimately set up to have us as viewers side with two of the robbers - Rocky (Jane Levy), a poor young woman who longs to flee to California with her stepsister away from her awful home life and drug-addled mother; and Alex (Dylan Minnette), a quiet, shy guy who harbors a secret crush for Rocky and tries to impress her by using his father's security firm to pinpoint homes they can break into a rob.  While they heretofore have only stolen $10,000 worth of product -- which keeps things under the felony limit -- Rocky and Alex's partner in crime Money (Daniel Zovatto) clues them in to Nordstrom's home with the prospect of a big score thanks to a lawsuit Nordstrom settled some years ago.  Despite their obvious deviant nature, director and co-screenwriter Alvarez pulls the viewers into Rocky and Alex's stories in a way that never seems to cloying or pushy.  Yeah, these kids aren't angels, but we're still rooting for them as they head into Nordstrom's house which we inevitably know will be perilous.

Alvarez -- who also directed the very effective horror film remake of Evil Dead -- is incredibly effective at creating a tense, scary atmosphere.  Much of this film takes place in darkened corridors and dimly lit rooms and yet I had no difficulty determining what was going on which is a difficult task for a director.  His cast is top notch for a film of this nature and the small cast does their best either acting scared or scary.  This one had me on the edge of my seat and proves that Alvarez wasn't just a one-hit wonder in the horror film department.

The RyMickey Rating:  B+

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