[Review] Hunt or be hunted in Alvarez’s “Don’t Breathe”
Author: Lisha Blackhurst
So, let’s talk about 2016. After the success of 10 Cloverfield Lane, and then the catastrophe that was Light’s Out [which is still getting commendable reviews much to my confusion], I had no idea what to expect with Don’t Breathe, as this year has been a crazy year for horror with hits and misses. The trailer for Don’t Breathe, it was refreshing and inventive; this isn’t a prequel, sequel or a remake, just finally a stand-alone film that I wasn’t quite sure the film industry created for cinema release anymore.
On the topic of remakes, it was obvious one would draw comparison to Alvarez’s remake of Evil Dead , which in the cinema impressed me; I found it to be a very innovative take on the classic and I for one didn’t believe it had tainted the original – although I’m not sure everyone agreed with me. Upon re-watching it recently, I was a little disappointed to see it hasn’t stood the test of time, even over a just a few years, but the one thing that hadn’t expired was Jane Levy’s acting. So when I was to discover they had teamed up again for Don’t Breathe, I knew we were in for a treat regardless of how anything else panned out. After seeing it last night, the comparisons stop there, and whereas Evil Dead was a nice piece of stylised horror-nasty good fun, Don’t Breathe is a gripping, tense horror-thriller that heads more in the direction of outlandish realism.
The narrative is fast-moving and doesn’t linger long over backstories or overstretch itself – just enough to give us a little insight into characters motives before we have entered the blind man’s home; our fundamental setting. The movie did fail to take the advantage of focusing more time over exploiting our fears, using the link between darkness and blindness. Expertly cast, Stephen Lang creates a formidable presence as the blind antagonist, and he is by far the most intriguing personality in the feature. Witnessing how someone can become so adept at navigating around their home blind, like an animal in the dark, made for a very fascinating hunt that could have been extended more effectively, as the trailer edit suggests. These brief scenes were amongst my favourite in the feature.
The movie continues its fast-pace throughout, cramming in a batch of plot-twists in the mere 88 minutes. The movie isn’t without flaws, and there is one “plot twist” in particular [if you have seen you will know what I’m talking about] that I found sorely preposterous, but I accept that without it the movie would have been predictable. The open-ending suggests more of a “room for thought” than a sequel, however Alvarez has released an alternate ending that shows a sequel could very much be on the cards, whether we like it or not.