Stephen Lang Jane Levy Dylan Minnette Daniel Zovatto
Chills and thrills a’plenty are in Don’t Breathe. Three young pals, Rocky (Levy), Alex (Minnette), and Money (Zovalto)—pun intended, I suppose—are making their living by stealing from other people. One has a connection to an alarm company, which allows them to disengage the alarms, enter homes and help themselves. They have to hand over a high percentage of what they get to a “handler” who lets them know which houses to hit. Then, as expected a really big job comes up, and at first Alex is reluctant because he knows the penalties if they’re caught, depending on the circumstances and whether or not they’re armed. He has his limits as to how much risk he wants to take.
Money, on the other hand, who seems to have no scruples about anything, is gung ho for the job, as is his girlfriend Rocky. After Alex reads a news story about the blind man who lives in the house, he decides to join them after all. The blind man (Lang) is ex-military and received a handsome settlement in a legal suit. Since he lives in a modest house in a neighborhood in Detroit that is mostly abandoned, there is likely to be a stash of cash on hand.
Off they go, and actually get into the house, but what awaits them there will be surprise after horrible surprise. That could be one of the weaknesses of the plot—at least six times you think it’s going to end, but Director Fede Alvarez and his co-writer Rodo Sayagues, always have one more gasp up their sleeves. The plot goes upstairs, downstairs, in the cellar, in the attic, and outdoors. There are locks to break (and sometimes the intruders are locked inside), guns to fire, and a muscular ex-military fighter who doesn’t need his eyes to take someone down.
The plot is intelligent, mostly, with clever twists, such as the fact that in the beginning the viewer will have little sympathy for the thieves, especially Money, although Rocky is a single mother with a rough background who cares deeply for her daughter. Then as the plot unfolds what Alex and Rocky have done fades in comparison to what they encounter. Which is a true horror story.
As with almost all the horror movies I’ve seen, though, I roll my eyes when the characters do stupid things and don’t take advantage of ways to escape, and that happens here. Both Alex and Rocky could have gotten out of the situation a number of times. Rocky is a bit more understandable in the sense that she stubbornly pursues her goals, and if there is any chance at all to get away with the loot, she will try. The filmmakers have hooked Alex in by making him have the hots for Rocky, who is Money’s girlfriend, and clearly he feels protective of her and will not leave until he knows she is safe.
Stephen Lang as the blind man convinces us of a layered personality with muscular arms that are as intimidating as his blank but intelligent eyes. He has to use his other senses to detect who is around and where, which he does mostly with accuracy until he gets desperate and rattled, then he is a wild man. But he pretty much gets our sustained attention over the long haul. The twist in his story is the most chilling of all. Minnette, Levy, and Zovatto carry off their roles with ease, and move the plot along over the tense terrain.
A good come-on for horror fans with its gripping plot twists.