By Nick Erickson, Staff writer
“Just because he’s blind don’t make him a saint.” This quote truly encompasses what could arguably be the most original and spine-tingling horror flick of 2016. “Don’t Breathe,” director Fede Alvarez’s newest endeavor, is both unpredictable and brutal without the typical oversaturation of gore and guts found in the genre today.
Set in Detroit, the film centers on a young woman named Rocky (Jane Levy), her boyfriend Money (Daniel Zovatto) and her best friend Alex (Dylan Minnette). A poor group, they turn to committing small robberies to scrape by. Wanting to better the life of her and her younger sister and move to California, the trio set out to commit their last and largest heist yet.
Their mission is to rob the home of an old, blind veteran (Stephen Lang), who is said to be sitting on a small fortune from a legal settlement stashed in his house in an abandoned neighborhood. The group severely underestimates the blind man and learns they were wrong for thinking it’d be an easy task. Now they’re left trapped inside his fortified house. With every new room and hallway, they uncover grim secrets.
For a movie with such a low budget and largely a single-set, the movie does not let up suspense in it’s mere 88 minutes. Throughout the duration of the movie, and as things escalate, viewers are left to form their own opinions on who is truly the “good guy” and “bad guy.” On one hand, viewers might sympathize with the blind man for his ailment, alone and the fact that he is a victim of some kids trying to rob him of a cash settlement. On the contrary, as viewers become enlightened of his true intentions and backstory, they might decide to side with the young criminals, being that they are in danger and they were committing the crime to put food on the table, so to speak.
From a cinematic standpoint, the film was literally breathtaking. The camera work is frantic and aids in the butterflies the audience will feel in their gut from the suspense. One stand-out scene that showcases the ingenious camerawork is when the blind man kills the lights in his basement, disabling the assailants, as his sense of hearing has been heightened from his blindness over time. The scene is shot in a black-and-white style and will make the viewers feel as if they, too, are on the run from a revolver-wielding man in pure blackness.
Given that it’s a hypothetical war between the lesser of two evils, “Don’t Breathe” might make viewers feel they’ve already seen this film more than once before, but they shouldn’t let this deceive them. This film unfolds into a series of revelations, subverting any predictions of an outcome. As the film progresses, true intentions and backgrounds of the characters unmask, tensions rise, trust withers and by the halfway mark, viewers will be skeptical of who to root for. “Don’t Breathe” is definitely not for the faint of heart, but for those adrenaline-junkies seeking a fix, this is the best bet.