Don’t Breathe review: Hitchcock-esque thriller will take your breath away
At The Movies
* * * *
Directed By Fede Alvarez
Starring Stephen Lang, Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto, Emma Bercovici
Sony, Rated R, Thrille, 88 minutes
Scary, tense and scripted with a several composure-rattling twists, “Don’t Breathe” offers an array of characters in various shades of grey, each of whom has a self-serving agenda. What separates the characters is their purpose and how far each is willing to go for a successful outcome.
A masterful thriller that incorporates elements of horror, “Don’t Breathe” sets up the story by exploring tragedies that might turn any upstanding citizen into a bogeyman and a set of circumstances to lead young people astray.
Single mom Rocky (Jane Levy), her larcenous boyfriend Money (Daniel Zovatto) and their accomplice Alex (Dylan Minnette), are 18- to 20-year-olds living in Detroit and getting by as burglars. A nice kid from a relatively stable home, Alex has access to the codes, keys and remote controls used by a burglar alarm company.
He uses these to help Rocky, whom he’s sweet on. She’s a beautiful, kindhearted daredevil whose small frame gives her a cat burgling advantage. Rocky dreams of escaping her drunken mother and mom’s flavor-of-the-month boy-toy for a beach-side California existence with her young daughter Diddy (Emma Bercovici).
Boyfriend Money appears comfortable masterminding their “B and E” escapades, but despite his tough-guy exterior, Money is neither hardened, nor tough.
Tired of taking large risks for small returns, Money and Rocky pressure Alex to crack a burglar alarm system at the home of an aging blind man (Stephen Lang). They’ve been tipped that the man’s large, cash insurance settlement is stashed somewhere inside his house located in an abandoned Detroit neighborhood.
Alex, the youngest of the three, knows the job constitutes grand larceny and is initially reluctant, but he relents hoping to change Rocky’s perception of him from that of a kid brother, to that of a reliable man.
Since the blind man leads a solitary life, rarely leaving home, Money’s plan is to drug the man’s dog, disarm his alarm system, and keep the man restrained long enough for the trio to find and steal his cash.
Although both Alex and Money have anticipated and prepared for minor complications, not one predicts the ability, resourcefulness, or the merciless nature of their intended victim.
Lang’s blind man ripples with well-developed muscles. His strength aside, he is disciplined, flexible and self-assured. His clouded eyes belie his otherworldly abilities — sharp hearing, a keen sense of smell, and skill in how to hurt, capture or kill his quarry. Further augmenting his missing sight is the man’s nameless attack-trained dog.
An obvious pit bull mix, the dog is fiercely loyal to its master. Its usefulness is seen by the animal’s disregard for its own wellbeing as it chases down the intruders. It isn’t a question of whether this film will increase the pit bull’s popularity — it’s merely a question of by how much?