Hi everyone, Bryan here…
Fede Alvarez burst onto the scene a few years ago with his short film on YouTube called ‘Ataque de Pánico!‘ It was so well received and well done that a few weeks later, Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell, and Rob Tapert were calling him non-stop and even offered the Uruguayan filmmaker the chance to direct the remake of ‘The Evil Dead‘, which came out 2013 to rave reviews and fan appreciation for what it was. Since then, Fede has a few projects in the works coming up, as he is one of the top new filmmakers to watch in the horror genre.
His newest film, ‘Don’t Breathe‘ is almost the complete opposite of ‘his remake of the ‘Evil Dead‘, in that it is shows almost zero gore and blood and relies on a high amount of suspense and tension throughout the film, which is indeed very successful. I was definitely fidgeting with my fingers and on the edge of my seat the entire time, as the movie goes through dark halls and corners both visually and metaphorically with some sinister twists and turns throughout. The added suspense comes with making the unnamed old man in the film blind, as three young adults plan to rob him, not really knowing who or what he is.
Even the multiple locks on the doors and bars on the windows in his run-down Detroit home are not enough clues to these kids that maybe this house is not a good idea. The young adults Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, and Daniel Zovatto are on a house robbing spree, in order to make enough money to get out of Detroit. It’s a half-baked notion and story, but it gets us into the house owned by a blind man (Stephen Lang) with a past. The problem here is that each character and most of the dialogue just doesn’t make any sense and comes across as silly to where you just roll your eyes. It takes you out of the whole suspense here and there during the film.
The reasons why these kids rob houses isn’t entirely clear and they don’t come across as being in anyway redeeming, compared with the crimes they commit. The dialogue is also borderline cringe worthy, and when Stephen Lang finally talks, he sounds a lot like Batman’s nemesis Bane, which caused laughter, rather than horror. That all being said, Fede Alvarez is a master of his camera and shooting a movie. From the steadicam one shot that moves multiple levels through the house as the robbers case the place to the slow and intensifying shots in the more suspenseful moments all work very well. The camera purposefully lets you know what props and other devices will come into play later in the film, which already gets your mind going.
Alvarez also uses a different version of night vision here when the lights go out in the basement of his home, which is utterly terrifying, and I hope that gets used in future films. Jane Levy is an excellent actress and coming from her starring role in ‘Evil Dead‘, she has more or less to work with here, but she gives it her all and is the one character who actually has some sort of backstory. The other two actors, who again are good, just have no where to go here, thus not connecting or really care what happens to them.
And of course there is Stephen Lang, who besides his accent in the film, is one of the scariest characters of recent memory, who takes some dark turns throughout, but also has his own reasoning, which is in away – sympathetic. Oh yeah, and he’s blind. The score by Roque Baños has a John Carpenter aspect to it at times and always adds to the high tension throughout. I just wish the story and the bulk of the characters weren’t as silly as they came across here. Still, this is a solid and effective effort from Fede Alvarez.
WORTH A LOOK!