October 6, 2022

Don’t Breathe is the kind of movie where the horror, the scary thing, is just standing right there in the room with you. It’s the same principle that made Halloween so powerful: the killer’s presence is what’s scary so just show him there. It allows the audience the time to be scarred.

Don’t Breathe is the kind of movie where the horror, the scary thing, is just standing right there in the room with you. It’s the same principle that made Halloween so powerful: the killer’s presence is what’s scary so just show him there. It allows the audience the time to be scarred.

Don’t Breathe comes from director Fede Alvarez, who previously directed Evil Dead. It also stars Jane Levy from Evil Dead. (Although I didn’t even recognize her until I checked the credits.) It’s a pretty standard horror story about 3 kids who break into a blind army vet’s house to rob him, only to find themselves trapped inside. The tables are turned; this house hold dark secrets; yada yada yada.

What makes Don’t Breathe special is the filmmaking. The way it’s shot, the way it’s structured and paced and the ways it creates and hold tension are all top notch. This is also an incredibly fair horror movie; there is one unfair jump scare (and only a couple others at all) which comes at the beginning mostly to serve as a “Haha, but yeah this isn’t that kind of horror movie.”

Instead the movie goes out of its way to establish the space it takes place in (including a series of very deliberate zoom ins) so that you have some idea about whats coming. Although the movie is also not without its surprises. The point of establishing so much early (A heavily locked door to the basement, a wall fool of tools, a gun under a bed) is to serve as a show of good faith on the movie’s part: “You know what kind of movie this, here’s some stuff to look forward to.” It allows the viewer to engage with the movie right upfront and know that this isn’t a horror movie that’s out to attack them personally.

Stephen Lang plays The Blind Man and he’s fucking terrifying; he could beat the shit out of you and kill you where you stand, but he doesn’t even know you’re standing there. He’s a monster that punishes your mistakes, and well… let’s just say there are mistakes to go around.

This movie is great at building and holding tension AND also really good at paying off that tension. Like Evil DeadDon’t Breathe just keeps going where lesser horror movies would have just cut and run. This is an endurance race, not a sprint that our heroine has to endure.

There’s also just something visceral and real about the way Stephen Lang punches people in this movie. These aren’t movie punches, this is more like what it really looks like when a really strong man pins someone down and just repeatedly knocks their face in until they submit. It’s specifically not acted up and that makes it worse.

This is a great movie that every horror fan should see.