Review: 'Don't Breathe' is the art of scaring people without ghosts, spirits or voodoo

Published: 02nd September 2016 06:15 PM  |   Last Updated: 03rd September 2016 07:45 AM   |  A+A-


Movie: Don't Breathe

Director: Fede Alvarez

Cast: Stephen Lang, Jane Levy

Rating: 4/5

Don't Breathe is not a horror movie. It's a terrific, scary thriller that can leave you petrified by the end of it. Just to be clear, there are no ghosts in this movie. There's only a blind old man who lives in a deserted neighbourhood with a scarily large rottweiler. The movie is edited tightly, shot with an eye for suspense and uses sound design to the hilt - which means the whispering and silences are just as terrifying as the music score.

Three delinquents decide to rob the man's house, because, well, he's loaded from a payout he received after his daughter was killed in a hit and run. Plus, he's blind. So two plus two equals easy break in. Except when they get there, everything goes horribly wrong. And we have the blind man to thank for that. In case you're wondering what about him is that scary, it's those white, glazed over eyes and that plaid, hard stare, besides the fact that he can hear better than Daredevil and carries a gun.

It's not easy scaring people without an element of the supernatural. Unless you're leaning towards the macabre, like Saw or Psycho or something along those lines. Stephen Lang's portrayal of a blind army vet, hunting the intruders who've come to rob him, by using his sense of sound and an uncanny awareness of the lay of his house, does the trick.

Much like Rocky, Alex and Money, a lot of people may wonder just how scary a blind old man can be. The answer? Pretty darn scary. You've got to give it up for Fede Alvarez's usage of sound, set and sheer tension as the suspense builds interminably as the blind man intensifies the hunt for the perps.

The centrepiece of this thrilling house-horror-hunt is this scene where the blind man turns the tables and throws off the power - plunging the whole house into pitch black darkness. Game on. Jane Levy and Dylan Minnette really outdo themselves as the hunt turns into a deadly rendition of three blind mice in the dark basement. You probably should get a prize if you manage to pick which one gets out first. Up till this point, it's an absolute roller coaster.

Downside? As the 90 minute thriller throttles toward a close, there is a point where you begin to wonder if anything can put the blind man and his demon dog down. This, despite an overdose of physical violence involving everything from grizzly fists to gardening shears, and guns, lest we forget. But hey, if you sat through the gut wrenching tension of the first 80 minutes, you've probably got the stomach for the last 10 too.

Verdict: No ghosts in sight but the blind man can still scare you worse than the average cult horror movie


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