Imagine Home Alone as a horror-thriller, with Kevin McAllister as a middle-aged blind person.
The summer usually ends quite poorly. On the rare occasion, there comes a movie that is truly chilling to the core. Something so straight-forward yet so effective. Something that will be talked about for years to come.
Don’t Breathe is one of those movies.
Rocky (Jane Levy), Alex (Dylan Minnette) and Money (Daniel Zovatto) are three friends breaking into houses in the Detroit area to earn enough money to go to California. They hear about a blind man (Stephen Lang) with a huge cash settlement after the death of his only child. Thinking they might get away with pulling off an easy heist, the trio break into the man’s home. But, it later becomes a death trap. They do everything they can to get the hell out.
Everyone knows the old saying, “Action speak louder than words”. Instead of relying on too much dialogue, director Fede Alverez uses a variety of film techniques to build up tension, with long, quiet tracking shots centering on our three protagonists, who are exceptionally performed (notably Jane Levy being the new scream queen of the horror genre), being in peril. The scene in the basement with the lights off is the best examples of night-vision filmmaking.
The city of Detroit serves as a quintessential role not only in this film, but the horror genre in general. As Justine Smith of RogerEbert.com puts it, “Detroit is presented as a city to be escaped, condemned by previous generations, leaving the city’s youth to pillage for survival. Frustratingly, the film aesthetically becomes little more than ‘ruin porn,’ showcasing Detroit only through collapsing infrastructure and absent or morally corrupt adults. The representation of the city itself shallow and vague, painting the city in broad strokes of misery.”
After starring in Avatar and FOX’s Terra Nova (which lasted for only a single season), it’s awesome to see Lang as a memorable horror movie villain. Even though his blind man cannot see anything, he can hear that something is up to no good. It goes in ways you would not expect in a typical home-invasion film. It provides enough to satisfy horror fans as well as those looking for some fun end-of-summer thrills.