Conceptually, Don’t Breathe is a scary idea. The movie is replete with tension, complete with occasional jump scares and camera angles that build up on the fear. The acting is also very good, making the antagonist of the film seem both pitiable and deranged. If there is one flaw to this movie is that the writing made the protagonist unbelievably stupid and fairly unlikable given her motivation.
Rocky, played by Jane Levy, Alex, and Money are three criminals that make a living breaking into homes in Detroit. Rocky has an abusive, alcoholic mother so she is desperate for money to get her and her sister moved to California. Money hears of a blind veteran who is supposed to have $300,000 stashed at his house. The gang pack up and attempt to rob the blind man. Little do they know that just because he is blind, he is far from being as helpless as they imagined.
Jane Levy does a great job acting scared. She is not the most likable character but when she is on screen you can believe that she thinks she is going to die. The blind man, played by Stephen Lang, is also believable. His performance was like a mix of his past performances ranging from pathetic Ike Clanton from Tombstone to his angry badass role as Colonel Quaritch, from Avatar. There are times when I was disgusted by his character’s insanity but also pitied him for what brought him to that state.
I am not a burglar. My knowledge of breaking and entering is limited to: Don’t do it. These characters have been at this a long time but still seem so dumb. They talk loudly, they leave enough evidence to fill an entire crime lab, they do not plan beyond face value, and they do not know when to leave. Just adding the motivation for Rocky to leave her abusive household is not enough to make her altruistic in my eyes. She could get a job and move out of her Mom’s place and call Child Protective Services on her mother.
Despite its shortfalls, Don’t Breathe is great at building tension. The camera often focuses on just the character’s face so that the audience cannot see what is coming behind the corner or they won’t notice something fast moving until it is too late. The darkness plays its own role in the film, keeping you on edge until the end.
Don’t Breathe is a flawed but good movie. The ending felt a bit hollow as there was no catharsis and it has a bitter feeling of evil winning with no lesson learned. It is certainly worth renting and possibly worth a matinee if you are a horror fan. Don’t Breathe would be a great companion movie with Hush, which came out recently as well. The thrills are legitimate and will have you leaving the theater with pieces of chair stuck under your nails from griping the seat.