Gasp­ing for scares

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - WEEK IN MOVIES - Leigh Paatsch

DON’T BREATHE (MA15+)

Di­rec­tor: Fede Alvarez (Evil Dead) Star­ring: Jane Levy, Dy­lan Min­nette, Daniel Zo­vatto, Stephen Lang

BY far and away the best hor­ror film of the year, Don’t Breathe makes a lit­tle go a long, long way.

Con­sider the lim­ited range of com­po­nents novice Uruguayan film­maker Fede Alvarez has elected to work with here. One run­down house on an aban­doned street in sub­ur­ban Detroit. Three ama­teur bur­glars in their late teens. One soli­tary res­i­dent who does not take kindly to un­in­vited vis­i­tors. His pet dog which feels very much the same way. A huge pile of cash.

In the wrong hands, all of this would make for about 30 min­utes of must-see movie at most. The rest would be filler, and worse.

That just won’t be hap­pen­ing on Alvarez’s as­sured watch with Don’t Breathe. The com­bi­na­tions and per­mu­ta­tions foren­si­cally ap­plied to a very ba­sic ar­ray of sto­ry­telling el­e­ments gen­er­ate a wide range of clever and creepy re­sults.

You don’t have to take the whole thing se­ri­ously, but you still will cop a right old rough­ing-up from some well-placed shocks and scares all the same. Let’s take a se­lec­tive, spoil­er­free peek in­side that house shall we?

Firstly, those three newbie crooks. Money (Daniel Zo­vatto) is a to­tal thug who brings the mouth and the men­ace to the oper­a­tion. Alex (Dy­lan Min­nette) might have a con­science, and def­i­nitely has some skele­ton keys nicked from his se­cu­rity-guard dad.

Then there is Rocky (Jane Levy), a woman who knows she needs that cash more than the oth­ers, and thinks she can live with the con­se­quences.

Now for the vic­tim-cum-vil­lain who will be host­ing the trio for the hellish evening ahead – he is listed in Don’t Breathe’s of­fi­cial cred­its un­der the name of The Blind Man (Stephen Lang). What this el­derly gentle­man lacks in sight, he more than makes up for with a sin­is­ter suite of self­de­fence skills.

Not only does The Blind Man know ev­ery last cen­time­tre of his home by way of pure in­stinct. He also har­bours one very dan­ger­ous se­cret he would rather not be shar­ing.

There­fore The Blind Man’s abode has been pimped out as a brick­sand-mor­tar booby trap. Dare to come in­side, and you’re doomed to never leave. The run­ning bat­tle of wits and de­ploy­ment of des­per­ate mea­sures de­picted here is staged with nim­ble speed and nerve-shred­ding ef­fi­ciency.

As di­rec­tor, Alvarez shrewdly ma­nip­u­lates ex­tended pe­ri­ods of ag­o­nis­ing si­lence and sub­tle shifts in (al­ways dim) light­ing to en­sure you stag­ger away from this or­deal both in­tim­i­dated and im­pressed.

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