In what’s turning out to be quite a kick ass year for modern horror, this reunion of the Evil Dead remake’s main players (heavily abused star Jane Levy, director Fede Alvarez and producers Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert) may have handed us the full on horror sleeper of the year.
Equal parts cool and nasty, this brutal house invasion shocker has plenty of surprises in store.
A trio of young thieves residing in down on it’s luck Detroit (looking more and more like a war torn shit hole every day) are desperate for money and hatch a plan to rob a house owned by a blind veteran. Upon entrance to this house the three youths find that things are not what they seem. The old blind man isn’t exactly on an even keel and he has some horrifying secrets stored in his basement…
Don’t Breathe benefits hugely by taking the time setting up everyone’s motives and personalities. Levy’s character is desperate for one big score to get her little sister the fuck away from their abusive scumbag family, her boyfriend is an alpha male dick and her friend is in love with her. So all they go into this barred up house to make their fortune, blissfully unaware that everything is about to go insanely to shit.
A film like this is only as good as it’s antagonist and the mighty grizzle of Stephen Lang is only too happy to oblige. The actor best known for ordering the mass genocide of blue skinned cat aliens while nonchalantly supping a cup of coffee is more than qualified to obliterate a trio of punk kids, blind or not. Lurching around his tomb-like house with the grey scarred eyes of a dead fish, he is one legitimately mean piece of work, utterly lethal within arms reach who actually has an understandable gripe with the world (how he goes about it however…).
The film gets massive mileage from it’s villain’s disability as scene after scene of the kids curled up in a corner, desperate to remain hidden while every creaking board and terrified gasp giving them away.
As mentioned before Jane Levy also requires massive props for absorbing just as much punishment as she did in Evil Dead and still making a character who breaks into people’s houses to steal from them highly endearing and rootable.
The real MVP however is director Alvarez who shows a real grasp of knuckle gnawing tension and amazing utilisation of sound. Every breath, every creak and crunch is dialed up to eleven to make the hiding scenes unbearable. Think a far more effective version of Wes Craven’s People Under The Stairs with all the fairy tale stuff taken out.
This has been a pretty strong year for the kind of seat lurchers and pop corn sprayers I used to live for and Don’t Breathe could be my favourite of the bunch and that’s saying a LOT when 2016 has also included the likes of The Witch and Green Room.
Simply put, Don’t Breathe is simply blinding.