MOVIE REVIEW: Don't Breathe is a clever thriller
IF THE mark of a truly successful suspense flick is less about the building of pressure and more about the way in which a filmmaker chooses to release this pressure, then Don't Breathe is an absolute master class in how to keep an audience on the hook and on the edge of their seat.
It's a simple twist on the already simple home invasion premise. Rocky, Alex and Money are three struggling youths in Detroit who are particularly skilled at burglary.
But when they attempt to rob a blind man they believe to be sitting on a huge pile of money, the heist turns into an all-out battle for survival.
The film does an adequate job making the otherwise criminal protagonists sympathetic. Rocky has a rough home life and the noble goal of escaping the treacherous city with her younger sister.
Alex is more level-headed and seemingly more innocent than the others but is in too deep due to his love for Rocky. Money, well, Money's the one we don't have to care about.
It never goes beyond the scope of the premise and doesn't have the depth that perhaps it could, but what Don't Breathe lacks in complexity, it more than makes up for in execution.
Every moment feels like it's building to the next one. The long, drawn-out takes make it clear what's going to become important but leaves the how and why a mystery.
When the violence and gore set in (and they will) it feels earned and all the more impactful because of it.
Don't Breathe is relentless, but that's exactly what you want from this kind of movie. It's a great example of how perfecting a craft can make even a familiar idea feel new and engaging again.
Stars: Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Stephen Lang.
Director: Fede Alvarez
Rating: MA 15+
Verdict: 4/5 stars