Directed by Fede Alvarez
Starring Stephen Lang, Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette
Released August 26th, 2016
Beaches, palm trees, and sunny weather. California sure sounds nice. Especially when you’re stuck in Detroit living with your strung out mother and her latest boyfriend. California is the kind of place you dream about escaping to, with your little sister in tow. Rocky (Jane Levy) fosters such dreams and she’s got a plan to make them come true. It involves breaking and entering.
Rocky is not a model citizen and neither is her friend Alex (Dylan Minnette), or her boyfriend Money (Daniel Zovatto). The trio has taken to robbing houses outfitted with security systems from Alex’s father’s company. Alex provides the keys and codes, and they make off with jewelry, clothes, and computers.
Director Fede Alvarez has created an authentic grindhouse film that would feel right at home as the B program at a drive-in in the late 1970s.
They don’t usually steal cash, as that would bring more serious charges should they be caught, but one mark proves too enticing to pass up. A Gulf War veteran (Stephen Lang) was awarded big monies after his daughter was killed in a hit and run accident. He lives alone in a run-down, near abandoned neighborhood and he’s sitting on all that cash. Oh, and he’s blind.
Targeting a blind war veteran who lost his daughter in a tragic accident is something that would give some thieves pause. Some thieves would decide this guy was simply off limits. Not Rocky, Money, and Alex. This is the money they need to get to California and how hard could it be to rob a blind man?
Stephen Lang plays the blind veteran with an animal physicality. He has few lines in the film, preferring action to words. He’s a different kind of heavy than we are used to seeing in films like these and he’s terrifying.
Jane Levy is a fearless actress who brings humanity to Rocky, a character we sympathize with even as she continually makes bad choices. Hey, it’s tough to get to California.
The centerpiece of the film is a scene where the blind man cuts the power to his house, leaving the robbers in the total darkness he always lives in. It’s a scene so tense you may in fact forget to breathe.
I appreciate when a film can bring something new to the table, and show us a situation we haven’t seen many a time before. Don’t Breathe has such a scene late in the film and I’m surprised they went as far with it as they did. Suffice to say you won’t want to use a turkey baster this Thanksgiving.
Director Fede Alvarez, who helmed 2013’s underrated Evil Dead remake (also starring Jane Levy), has created an authentic grindhouse film that would feel right at home as the B program at a drive-in in the late 1970s. I’m not sure the story holds up to scrutiny, but that hardly matters when a movie is this enjoyable.
Don’t Breathe is a shocking, fun, gross, and totally engaging experience.