THE MOVIE GUY: ‘Don’t Breathe’ will take your breath away

Published 10:44 pm Thursday, August 25, 2016

“Don’t Breathe” is a nasty little thriller that is notable for its relentless sense of dread. The film is lean and gritty and so tense that I was still amped up by the story more than an hour after I’d left the theater. Say what you like about these types of thrillers, but credit director Fede Alvarez for making a film that will absolutely get under your skin.

On the surface, this is just the story of a home invasion. We meet three young thieves (Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette and Daniel Zovatto) as they are making plans to rob a blind old recluse who is reportedly sitting on a pile of cash. If they can tranquilize the blind man’s Rottweiler, the rest of the robbery should be a piece of cake.

Boy, are they wrong.

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The old man (Stephen Lang) may be blind, but he’s certainly not a helpless victim. He turns out to be a ruthless hunter, and once his secrets are uncovered, he is determined not to let any of the thieves escape alive.

He is still blind, so the movie turns into a game of cat and mouse as two of the thieves try to remain absolutely silent while looking for a way out of the house, lest the killer hear their movements. Things turn particularly desperate during one sequence where the lights are shut off, giving the blind man all the advantage.

It’s a nice little twist on what should have been a routine home invasion thriller. The hunters become the hunted and the audience is left to cheer for the would-be thieves, if only because their intended victim turns out to be such a vicious monster.

Credit Lang for making the film work thanks to his ruthless performance. Despite being old and blind, his character is such a lethal predator that he becomes one of the most memorable cinematic villains in years.

More credit goes to the filmmaking team for turning the blind man’s house into a menacing maze filled with horror around every corner. The production design is superb, making everything uncomfortably claustrophobic. Adding to the sense of dread, the moving cameras seem to stalk the robbers at times, turning up the tension until it all seems hopeless.

In other words, this isn’t an enjoyable movie going experience, but if you like being scared out of your wits, “Don’t Breathe” will have you holding your breath in fear. You may very well still be holding your breath hours after the show.

Movie reviews by Sean, “The Movie Guy,” are published bi-weekly in “The Port Arthur News” and seen weekly on KFDM and KBTV. Sean welcomes your comments via email