Low-budget horror has graciously entered a new renaissance.
Contemporary hits like “It Follows,” “The VVitch” and “10 Cloverfield Lane” have paved the way for Fede Alvarez. The director of the intensely gory remake of “Evil Dead” returns to horror with his new original film, “Don’t Breathe.”
After learning that a blind war veteran could have a fortune stashed inside his house, three ordinary thieves decide this is one job they can’t pass up. But a simple burglary becomes a fight for survival as the heist rapidly spirals out of control.
Jane Levy (“Evil Dead”), Dylan Minnette (“Goosebumps”) and Daniel Zovatto (“It Follows”) give strong performances as Rocky, Alex and Money, respectively. Each character delivers an authentic sense of fear and desperation for the situation they soon find themselves in.
But it’s Stephen Lang (“Avatar”) as the Blind Man who brings this film to life. His performance is haunting. Slowly, the character’s backstory unfolds, revealing disturbing and heartbreaking elements to this antagonist, driving him to commit despicable acts.
The majority of the film is set in the Blind Man’s small house, providing a claustrophobic setting where anxiety brilliantly saturates the entire film. It’s unbelievably impressive that “Don’t Breathe” was able to keep the tension high, the scares consistent, and the pace flowing smoothly with such a constrained set.
Ultimately, the limited set makes it easier to spot inconsistencies and illogical actions from the characters. These bumps, while minor, do an effective job of drawing attention away from the film’s intensity. Fortunately, they are irregular enough that when the next twist or surprise shows its grisly face on screen, the problems are quickly forgotten.
Every scene in this movie is carefully crafted, with the full intent of being shocking and disturbing. The blood and gore is surprisingly minimal, which keeps the film focused on the subtle tension and the environment. It’s a wonderful contrast to the ultra-violent “Evil Dead.”
“Don’t Breathe” is a must see, especially for fans of horror films who feel that cinema has lost its ability to effectively frighten. It’s a tense and disturbing ride, standing as a truly terrifying experience that should not be missed.