A nasty little addition to the minor 2016 horror boom, Don’t Breathe tops up its surfeit of straight-forward jump scares with an impressively disgusting third-act reveal. Coming in the wake of the success of fellow mid-range horrors like Lights Out and The Conjuring 2, Don’t Breathe has a comparatively grittier aesthetic, which it confidently leans into.
The high concept set-up of the movie – teenagers vs blind psycho in the dark – is exploited creatively for the most part. If the film was inspired by that scene in The Silence of The Lambs where Jodie Foster is stalked in the dark by Buffalo Bill, it honours the inspiration with plenty of well-sustained tension.
Stephen Lang makes for a fantastic villain – he positively shimmers with evil here. Perhaps the success of Don’t Breathe will finally give Lang the proper mainstream career bump he deserved after Avatar.
In his previous movie, the New Zealand-shot Evil Dead reboot (which also starred Jane Levy), Uruguayan director Fede Alvarez demonstrated a proclivity for the kind of horror movie moments designed to make audiences look away – the one he unleashes here is an absolute doozy. The reveal in question taps into an urban myth regarding a certain kitchen instrument – it’s so effective as a horror device that it makes you wonder why nobody else tried it already.
For all the emphasis on the high-concept hook of the movie, this scene does ultimately overshadow the rest of the film. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing, I have yet to determine.
‘Don’t Breathe’ Movie Times