Don't Breathe

Don't Breathe ★★

A huge improvement on his Evil Dead remake, Fede Alvarez constructs a tense thriller with an interesting use of visual and audio design. The premise is interesting and the characters are engaging but there are just too many decisions that defy logic in the final reel that smack of contrivance.

Stephen Lang's antagonist clearly comes from the Blind Fury/ Daredevil school of extra sensory shenanigans as his lack of sight has turned him into a human radar. The way in which he shut off the power in order to slow down the burglars was a smart manoeuvre and there are various points where he stalks like a Terminator, but as the film progresses it's these traits that make him less of a man, and more a super villain. Sadly, that's when the tension started to dissipate.

Unfortunately, Green Room set a ridiculous watermark for all thrillers to come as a group of ordinary teens are set upon by ordinary, vicious Neo-Nazis. It was the fact that there was a basic level of human competency, fight or flight impulse and fallibility on both sides that made the drama compelling. Don't Breathe gives us kids who make stupid, Hollywood decisions, an antagonist who pops up toward the end more times than Jason Vorhees and a cyclical conclusion that will lead to an unnecessary sequel.

Don't get me wrong, there are parts of Don't Breathe I really enjoyed. Jane Levy is great, Dylan Minnette has been solid in a bunch of things including this, and Stephen Lang delivers his role with an energy and nuance that many other performers would've failed at attempting. The first two thirds are a masterclass in precision editing and building up tension but (and I'm pretty sure I'm in the minority here), the final third completely fudges the ball.

Seeing Alvarez work within both Horror and Thriller genres I'd love to see his take on a Western, or a Sci-Fi, or an Action movie. Fingers crossed he's not stuck making the continued adventures of Norman Nordstrom for the rest of his career.

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