Jcherry5’s review published on Letterboxd:
Idk why, but for whatever reason the home invasion thriller/horror subgenre has never really been my niche. I didn’t even really care when one my favorite directors David Fincher delved into it with Panic Room. So that alone will probably take a star off this review.
Don’t Breathe follows a simple setup of three young Detroit thieves breaking into the house of a blind veteran only to find that he’s menacingly great at defending himself, and their challenge becomes how to get out of the house without getting killed. Before I go any further I feel like an important side note to mention is that this film extremely visually driven from a narrative standpoint so much so that, it probably only has a total of 25 minutes of dialogue. However, once the trio invades the blind war veteran’s house. Don’t breathe for most of the majority takes off at a thrilling pace up until the tacked on Hollywood sequel scene at the end.
In terms of Don’t Breathe's camerawork Fede Alvarez does a formidable job of laying out the geography of the secluded house with a various array of swooping camera moves and foreshadowing zoom-ins. This is also where much of the film’s tension is built by constraining the viewer to either the characters pov or the agonizing clarity of nearby danger lurking just around the corner.
Aside from the positives of the cinematography one of my initial issues with this film came only after the first 25 minutes of it. Where there is clearly a moment that you’re supposed to start rooting for the protagonist, yet I still didn’t find myself doing so. Much of that can probably be traced back to the lack of character motivations in this film. With Money and Alex basically being one-note characters Rocky is clearly the most relatable individual out of the trio. Granted this, it still felt like Alvarez decided to half-ass her characterization by giving her a poorly written monologue about the years of abuse she suffered from her mother just so he could dash towards the centerpiece (The House) quicker. For this reason, I was sadly never able to sympathize with her character.
However, more specifically, I feel like my biggest problem with this movie is how all the redundant plot developments, which mainly take place in the closing act. Unraveled most of Don’t Breathe’s sustained tension as well as its raw, visceral qualities to an absurd extent. As a result of this, it ultimately took me out of a suspension of disbelief.
Even though, Don’t Breathe is suitably executed from a filmmaking standpoint and does contain a couple of creepy moments. It doesn’t come close to being on the same tier with The Witch or Green Room as many people have suggested on this site.