Don’t Breathe

Think of your worst nightmare that continues to haunt you. Need I say more?

dont-breatheHaving just finished a murder trial, I’ve got some catching up to do at the theater. It began with Director Fede Alvarez’s Don’t Breathe, and this disturbing film still leaves me a bit off balanced.

This is not a classic horror film, but a rather disturbing story about three young criminals choosing the wrong house to burglarize. Quite frankly, I felt I felt like an anesthetized victim of a cinematic spider wrapping me up in a cocoon against my will.

Rocky (Jane Levy), Alex (Dylan Minnette) and Money (Daniel Zovatto) are three financially strapped young people seeking to make a financial score by hitting an old home in an largely abandoned section of Detroit. Since it has been determined that the lone resident is a blind man who recently scored a large financial settlement, it seemed like a walk in the park.

Nearly the entire film takes place in the blind man’s residence, and it is terrifying from the moment they break in through a window. After drugging a large, surly watchdog, they believe they have done the same thing to the old man as he sleeps in his bed. They were wrong, DEAD WRONG!

What makes the entire film so startlingly unnerving is a laconic, bold performance by Stephen Lang as the resident simply known as “The Blind Man”. If you are asking who is Stephen Lang, hunt down his memorable role as Colonel Miles Quaritch in the classic Avatar (2009). Here, he is a heartless military veteran who has been keeping a horrible secret in his basement. Locking all exits from the house, he pursues each burglar to destroy them.

This is a rare film where the audience gradually builds sympathy for the criminals. Ms. Levy gives a crushing performance as she becomes increasingly emotionally overwhelmed. It is as if she is trapped in a torture chamber waiting for her own inevitable destruction.

I was reminded of the old Sergio Leone’s classic spaghetti western, The Good, The Bad and the Ugly (1966), only call this film simply The Bad and the Ugly. The worst part about the whole experience is you have to pay attention, and you can’t avoid the feeling that you’re trapped in the house with the three desperate burglars.

This is a movie that leaves you with a cinematic rash that you can’t quit scratching. This is a powerful, intriguing film that will make you hate yourself for being a movie fan.