Commitment. As parents, as people, we try to better our lives for those that we are responsible for. Sometimes, our situations compel us to take extreme, often aggressive actions to achieve those goals. Fede Alvarez’s (EVIL DEAD (2013)) DON’T BREATHE is a cleverly disguised noir thriller making use of a limited number of sets and locations along with a very small cast.
DON’T BREATHE sees Rocky (Jane Levy) and her boyfriend, Money (Daniel Zovatto) along with their partner, Alex (Dylan Minnette), stealing small, expensive items to make their ends meet. When their latest score doesn’t yield as much money as they would have liked, they decide to go after one big, final score.
Unfortunately, the script by Alvarez and Rodo Sayagues does not entirely work. While the character’s motivations are understood, the ends don’t justify the means. The midsection of the plot is the story’s strength, not because of the main characters, but because of the tension that Alvarez worked so hard to achieve, thanks in part to the character played so brilliantly by Stephen Lang.
The creative team behind the scenes really pulled together to give this movie its style. Pedro Luque’s cinematography is gorgeous. Several scenes featured a dolly zoom, to change our visual perspective further heightening the tension. The Dolby Vision HDR grading really enhanced the shadow delineations and the scenes shot using night vision. Zsuzsa Mihalek’s set decoration was second to none, convincing us that with as many rooms as we went through, we were still in one house.
The editing by Eric L. Beason, Louise Ford and Gardner Gould is some of the best of 2016. Where the plot elements may have strayed, the tight editing really allowed the thrills to flourish, a hallmark of this genre.
Jonathan Miller’s sound design adds another layer of needed sound compliments the strong visuals and editing. Roque Baños’ score truly conveys the ultimate sense of tension, giving each character a moment while conveying the seriousness of the situations.
Despite the meandering plot, DON’T BREATHE is Recommended. It is a visual and aural feast, forcing you to use all your senses.