Don’t Breathe is Breathless Entertainment

Don't Breathe is Breathless Entertainment

Garrett Wheeler, SPN Editor in Chief

Don’t Breathe was one of those movies that I had no idea was coming out until closer to its release. I had only seen one trailer and various commercials for this film just a few weeks before it came to theaters. So, I went to this movie intrigued and skeptical. What I saw was an entertaining, nerve-racking film that gripped me throughout the runtime.

Don’t Breathe stars three friends, played respectively by Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, and Daniel Zovatto, who make a living by breaking into people’s homes and robbing them. One day, they find an old, blind man, played by Stephen Lang, and learn that he lives alone, so they figure he’d be an easy target. Easy to say, he isn’t. The next hour and a half consist of thrills, kills, and blood spills.

The plot for this movie is simple, yet leaves a lot of room to hammer in some truly intense, frightening moments. This matches with a solid script, sharp writing, and likable characters. It goes through fascinating, and sometimes quite disturbing, twists and turns that are enthralling to witness.

This movie uses some terrifying suspense. For a good majority of the movie, Don’t Breathe has the feeling of a guitar string that’s constantly tuning up — getting tighter until it’s about to snap. This film does an excellent job of amping up the suspense by while maintaining a relatively slow pace that feels like it’s about to lose all control … but it never does. It was constantly unnerving and entertaining. It isn’t always consistent in that regard, but we’ll get to that later.

The performances in Don’t Breathe are all solid. The three main characters are play off each other well and react convincingly to all of the horrors when things go down. Lang does a marvelous job as the blind, nameless old man. He’s creepy and menacing, and a huge force to be reckoned with because of his violent tendencies and unpredictable nature, which make the viewer think that he’s going to snap at any moment. Combine all these with the fact that he only has a few lines of dialogue, and you have one of the most unsettling performances of the year.

The real star of this movie is the director. Fede Alvarez has created a film that feels distinct with its direction, even with its familiar plot. The cinematography is effective with its use of abstract angles and sweeping shots, the score is creepy with its minimalistic sound of pianos and strings, and the script goes in exciting directions even though good chunks of the run time contain minimal dialogue. This may be Alvarez’s second film to direct, the first being the Evil Dead remake back in 2013, but he should become a household name very soon.

However, this movie does have its problems. For starters, the characters aren’t always the brightest. They’re smarter than other horror/thriller movie characters, but they do make some stupid decisions. There’s one character specifically who does some truly maddening things at the start of the film that will make you shout, “What are you doing?,” at the screen.

The ending also isn’t that spectacular. There is one point near the ending where it cuts to black, and I thought, “Wow, that’s a great ending.” But the movie keeps going for another unnecessary 2 minutes. The movie would be no different without those last few minutes. Because of this addition, the movie ends on a rather unfulfilling and half-baked note. It didn’t end in as strong of a way as it should’ve.

The biggest problem with this movie is the pacing. It’s not the pacing of the actual movie of whether it’s too slow or not, but the pacing of the tensity and the scares. The first half of the movie uses this tensity very well. It’s slow yet well paced, keeping this unnerving feeling running throughout a lot of scenes. The first half was executed excellently with its dark and disturbing tone and kept the suspension very high. However, when the second half rolls around, the movie tries to go for a more traditional horror style. The movie actively tries to scare its audience at that point, and, because of this, the tension is lost. The second half is still executed well, but it doesn’t grip me with its suspense like the first half does.

Overall, Don’t Breathe is an entertaining film. Is it perfect? No. Is it scary? Not even close. I honestly don’t know why this is listed as a horror film, because it’s clearly not. It’s a thriller, and a good one at that. If you want a tense and exciting experience at the theaters, then you should check it out. Don’t Breathe is breathless fun.