Directed by Fede Alvarez
Written by Fede Alvarez and Rodo Sayagues
Starring: Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto and Stephen Lang
“Don’t Breathe” is the next in a line of surprisingly well-made horror films to be released this year: The others being “Green Room,” “The Witch” and “The Conjuring 2;” which was a good sequel too. What was incredible about “Don’t Breathe” was that Fede Alvarez, the director of the film, accomplishes a lot with very little. The film is a taut, claustrophobic thriller.
The action of “Don’t Breathe” is contained in one location, the house of the old man. The only part of the movie that does not take place in the old man’s house is the setup of the movie. The single location is a benefit to the film because it creates the claustrophobic sensation that you feel throughout the movie. “Don’t Breathe” and the other movies I mentioned earlier has something that a lot of horror films – especially contemporary ones – seemed to have lost: Atmosphere. The best horror movies – usually of the thriller based variety – create an atmosphere. That atmosphere can be either suspense, claustrophobia, unease or terror. While Alvarez may not be on the same level as Hitchcock, he does understand that the fundamental essence of horror films.
The performances in “Don’t Breathe” are good, for a horror movie at least, particularly the ones given by Jane Levy and Stephen Lang. Not that the bar was ever that high for performances in horror films, to begin with, but their performances are legitimately good. Unfortunately, they are not as good as the performances given in “The Witch.”
I feel sorry for horror movies; the genre is such an assembly line that the bar for a good film is not very high, and it is a sweet bit of irony that it is also not an easy task to make a good horror movie. “Don’t Breathe” is well above that bar, even if the third act kind of falls flat compared to the rest of the movie.