OSW Review | Don’t Breathe (2016)

Don’t Breathe (2016)

Plot: Thriller about a group of (amateur) thieves who want to steal from a blind but capable Army vet. The job gets messy.

Cast/Crew: Written/directed/produced by Fede Alvarez (Evil Dead remake), starring Jane Levy (Evil Dead remake), Dylan Minnette (Zach in Goosebumps) & Daniel Zovatto (Jack in Fear the Walking Dead) as the thieves, and Stephen Lang (American Colonel in Avatar) as the army vet.

Production Tidbits:
• Director/Writer, co-writer, producer, composer and female actress all worked on the Evil Dead remake.
• Shot in Hungary with a few scenics in Detroit.
• Most shot in the house – v. cheap to make ($10m – half of the Evil Dead remake) which allowed for less studio interference.

• It opens with a foreshadowing shot, which is also maybe 10 minutes before the end of the film. Since it’s not the very end it’s not that bad, but from it you’d guess what happens to get there.
• Who’s the mark? A retired army vet. Why? He’s a blind loner. What’s the vig? He’s said to be holding $300,000 in his house.
• The house is on a street called “Buena Vista” or “Good Sight” ha ha. Zing!
• What makes this film interesting? It’s a game of cat & mouse, and both “sides” have different strengths. The thieves: There’s three of them, healthy, young and can see (lol)
The Army Vet: Blind, older but physically much stronger, with combat training, has his dog, and he’s on his home turf. Makes for a great dynamic.
• As the story is set, we’re on the thieves’s side – they’re looking to escape their current lives. They’re delinquents but have some kind of morals – pick a guy who’s hoarding money, and bail rather than hurt him if possible. They’re amateur thieves, doing small break-ins thanks to Alex, the son of a guy who installs security systems. In the movie Alex doles out exposition/information (“this is B&E, not murder!”, “Under 10,000 it’s petty theft!” etc) and has a crush on Rocky (the female thief).
• The job was always going to go awry – they don’t spend long scouting (eg not knowing how many locks are on the door before they get there) and they are generally ill-equipped (a gun, crowbar, security fob and attitude is about all they have). The leader (“Money”) is a low-level thug who is easily frustrated (he starts pulling at the cellar door loudly when it’s locked). They do rookie things like taking their shoes off and leaving them in the house (leaving phones out/on vibrate etc), and tranquillise the dog only for a brief time – maybe 30 minutes tops.
• The best reason to see this is to see the thieves try not get caught/give away that they’re even in the house, especially when they make a sound and the Army Vet suspects something. He’s blind but he’s still extremely dangerous.
• There’s a couple of big turning points in the movie, like when the perps get found out, and the only locked door (to the basement) is opened. It’s a pretty great twist.
• There’s some nice camera shots – when they first enter the house, there is a long one-take showing the thieves canvassing different rooms of the bottom floor. It’s pretty cool. The film makes sure to show you important objects that’ll come up later — ie THERE IS A GUN UNDER THE BED! HERE IS AN IRON MALLET! It’s like pro-wrestling booking! (everyone in Row Z can see exactly what’s going on)
• There’s a scene when the lights go out (and everything goes black & white) which is a pretty cool aesthetic. The actors playing the thieves wear contacts that make their pupils look massive (which makes sense as they’re looking around in the dark)
• Couple of jump-scares in there which are a bit cheap, but the dread/tenseness of the movie is effective! Great!
• I’d class it as a tense thriller, not horror. There’s no real gore or supernatural element, it’s ‘regular people’ rather than a slasher villain/hillbilly. However The Blind Man does have some ‘Jason’ moments, like appearing from a different place than expected and surveys the area like the monster out of Alien.
• Oh man, there’s a “ohhhh shit!” revelation when the female thief is caught and put into a harness. We’ve seen it before (giving you expectations due to it’s previous use as a restraint) but the 1-2 punch with the new use of the harness, combined with the turkey baster is a real holy shit moment. The way that scene played out with grossly compelling. A memorable, very high low point of the film.
• Only real negative is that the woman escapes and gets caught 1-2 many times. You’re kinda sick of the ‘almost!’ by the end.

Overall: It was a fun thrill ride, overlooking that the characters aren’t memorable, and it’s very much a ‘in the moment/no backstory’ film. It has an interesting premise, with effective, sustained tension that held my attention throughout, and there were some cool ideas/gross parts. Nothing revolutionary, it’s kinda one and done (you’ll forget about it the next day) so I won’t recommend it, but if it’s on TV or this sounds interesting to you, give it a whirl!

Just imagine Gwen Stefani singing “Don’t Breathe!”

Don’t breathe! I know what you’re sayin’…


Release Date
October 12, 2016