Hailed as the best American horror film in the past twenty years, Don’t Breathe automatically had a lot to live up to. Being massive horror fans and filmmakers ourselves, we tend to be super critical of horror films and are notoriously hard to scare. The self-professed claim that this was the “best” made us dubious from the start.
Thinking he’ll be an easy target, three thieves make the decision to rob an old blind man (Stephen Lang). The rumour of a cash settlement hidden in his house deemed too good to pass up, despite an angry Rottweiler, a ridiculous number of locks, and a creepily-deserted neighbourhood. Gormless Alex (Dylan Minnette) drives the story alongside his not-so-secret crush Rocky (Jane Levy) and her ill-tempered boyfriend Money (Daniel Zovatto), with a wide-eyed deer-in-the-headlights stare almost permanently etched on his face.
Some beautiful winding long shots throughout the house perfectly capture the trio’s sense of fear at being trapped with a crazy guy, while the audience’s empathy flitters between home owner and intruders, and back again. The cinematography masterfully enables the audience to experience blindness for a few moments and while not overly scary, the atmosphere succeeds in forcing us to hold our breath.
Don’t Breathe was less horror and more disturbing and brutal thriller, with a slight impatient never-ending feel.