The house is dark and not a sound is to be heard. You hold you breath waiting to see what comes around the corner. Your mind is racing thinking what it could be and what could happen next. Then before you finish that thought you see it from the corner of your eye, but it’s too late. That set-up could be to any number of scenes from a suspense or horror movie. The desire is to make everything around you come alive so that every sound, or flash gives you pause to what happens next. Some filmmakers make it obvious to what is coming next, while others have the gift to keep you guessing.
Rocky (Jane Levy), Alex (Dylan Minnette), and Money (Daniel Zovatto) like to steal things from houses. They access these houses through Alex’s father whose company provides security for them. Money is the one with the connection to sell the stolen goods, while Alex is the brain. The money isn’t great, and most of them are looking for an end game, or that one big score. The jackpot comes in the form of a Blind Man (Stephan Lang), who is a Gulf war Veteran. After losing his daughter in an accident, the blind man is given money as a payoff for his loss, and it is that money that is the end game that could get all three out for good. Everything seems so easy, break in, put everyone in the house asleep, then find the money and get out. What may sound easy turns into a nightmare, as they picked the wrong house and definitely the wrong man to tussle with.
With a story written by Rodo Sayagues and Fede Alvarez, the later also directing you were already in good hands. The film uses silences and atmosphere perfectly as every sound or lack thereof resonates. Having the victim being blind only adds to that, as he has to use those sounds to find who is in his house. Alvarez, who is coming off the remake of “Evil Dead” shows his love for the genre with little tips of the hat to films he loved. Alvarez and Sayagues create a film that will have you on the edge of your seat, as the lack of sounds elevates what you think might come next. It’s not the characters that drive the narrative, it’s what they do, or don’t do that does. While the film is heavy on suspense, it lacks scares, which for me enhances the film and makes it stand out and not just another attempt to scare you. With two good films under his belt, Alvarez has become one of those directors whose films I anticipate. “Don’t Breathe” will have you holding your breath at every turn, as the silence becomes too much to bear sometimes. This is what a film should do, so sit back, and pay attention and just remember one thing, don’t, ya’ know, don’t do the breathing thing.