Gasping for scares
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.