Don't Breathe

Don't Breathe ★★★½

Don't Breathe sets itself way higher than most horror films by being incredibly intense and genuinely messed up. As the title suggests, you'll be on the edge of your seat, wanting desperately to let out a sigh of relief, or at least a few moments to exhale. This movie could've been perfect, and a great follow up to two masterful horror films released earlier this year, The Witch and Green Room, but there's one major oversight that holds this back, and it's the characters.

I will say outright, Lang as the Blind Man was excellent, a well rounded antagonist who is much more than just a cartoony villain bent on evil deeds or a generic slasher killer. He simultaneously appears frail/vulnerable and very imposing. He is certainly incredibly vile, shockingly so, but you can see the reasoning behind his acts, even if he goes about them in the most disgusting and reprehensible ways possible. No complaints here, an actually complex and very well handled villain is an extreme rarity in horror films, especially nowadays.

The main protagonists however leave much to be desired, they suffice well enough as solid leads, but suffer from the usual horror genericness that plagues most films in the genre. They are neither challenging or very well developed, and their forcedly sympathetic silver linings are the only things really making you as the viewer root for them over their would be robbery victim. I'm glad the violence and gore was respectfully handled, especially given Alvarez' last work, the literally blood drenched Evil Dead reboot, however, because the characters didn't quite work, not too many of the moments of violence inflicted upon them felt very effective or packing any kind of emotional punch.

As many others have pointed out, the first 2/3 to 3/4 of the film are incredibly solid, well paced and expertly designed sequences, methodically ratcheting up the tension with every minute, but the final act felt a bit drawn out and repetitive. It is because of these two noteworthy flaws that I can't quite bring myself to love this film, but I can say for certain that it was incredibly enjoyable, intense and well worth a watch.


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