September 1, 2016
Three petty thieves, the reckless Money, his girlfriend Rocky and their best pal Alex, break into the house of an old blind war veteran who just gained a hefty amount of money from a court settlement. Since this house was in an abandoned neighborhood, they thought this victim would be an easy pushover for a big-payoff caper. However, little did they know that when the blind man found out he was being robbed, the tables would majorly turn against the thieves in sick deadly ways they never would have imagined in their wildest nightmares.
This is again another one of those films which I hope I never saw the trailer. The basic plot of the film was already there as I had described above. You can really see the classic Hitchcock touch in the storytelling approach, with its effective use of close-ups to play up the importance of various objects. There was some similarity to the chilling film "Wait Until Dark," where a blind woman also had a thief break into in her house. Like Audrey Hepburn's Susy, the blind man also turned off the lights to gain the upperhand over the thieves.
However, that synopsis above and the trailer are definitely not the whole story. More startling events happen midway when you least expect it -- events which you would never have guessed would come and twist up the whole proceedings. The lesser you know about the plot the better this film would work, so I will not talk anymore about these other details so you can enjoy this film as much as I did.
As Rocky, Jane Levy effectively played a desperate young woman willing to do anything to get out of her destitute life in Detroit. She is very good with her facial expressions that convey horror and claustrophobia. Apart from that, she also excelled in the very exhausting physical demands of her role. Levy worked well with director Fede Alvarez, whose last film was also "Evil Dead" back in 2013 like her. In fact, the director of the original "Evil Dead" (1981), Sam Raimi, is also on board now as a producer. However, the horror of "Don't Breathe" is definitely a lot more subtle than the gore-fests of either "Evil Dead".
As the Blind Man, Stephen Lang had a practically wordless role, but he was such a strong presence despite and because of his silence. Even when we do not see him, we definitely feel his fearsome energy. Still sturdy and well-built, at 64 years old with his silvery hair, Lang's Blind Man was a memorably enigmatic and nihilistically perverse screen character. This remarkably powerful and unnerving performance will be the one Lang would long be remembered for in his acting career.
It can be frustrating to watch a film where all the characters are flawed or downright bad and you do not know whom to root for. This is one of those films, but the way the director Alvarez executed it, it actually made the whole situation of the film better. It was such a breathless experience up to the multiple climaxes Alvarez gave us. You never know when or how it was going to end, and you don't want it to. Save for a sticky question about the main twist (which you may only think about as an afterthought), the plot developments were generally well-thought out and logical. Those jump scares can really startle you out of your seat. This is how suspense should be done. 9/10.