REVIEW: Despite Unlikable Characters, ‘Don’t Breathe’ Has Edge Of Your Seat Thrills

Take note horror characters, never go in a creepy looking house.

“Don’t Breathe” tells the tale of three home robbers trying to make enough money to get out of a dilapidated area of Detroit. The trio, including Rocky (Jane Levy), Alex (Dylan Minnette) and Money (Daniel Zovatto), get a major opportunity for a big score when they are tipped off about a blind man who is sitting on hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The three eventually begin their plan to break in and pull off the heist, but they don’t get very far. It’s not long before the would-be robbers find out that the person their stealing from, despite being blind, has complete control over his senses. On top of this, they also find out that the Blind Man (Stephen Lang) is aggressive and ready to kill all of the trespassers without mercy.

“Don’t Breathe” has a very strong middle in between two somewhat average acts. The opening set up for the movie doesn’t particularly get an audience that much on the side of the characters and the third act has some moments that feel a bit tacked on, making the film feel a little overlong.

However, the meat of the movie in the second act does make for suspenseful experience to watch and it leads into a disturbing plot twist that provides plenty of chills. Plus, the film moves along at a quick pace for the most part, keeping the action going which can leave an audience on the edge of their seats. And even though the ending had an extra scene that wasn’t particularly necessary, the finale is still entertaining.

As previously stated about the first act, though, the film had a hard time getting me on the side of these characters. There’s a minor plot point that’s supposed to make us sympathetic to the character Rocky, but some of what she says later in the movie still make it somewhat hard to root for her.

It’s not to say that this in turn makes a person want to root for the bad guy, but the Blind Man is so evil that a person can only really root for the protagonists by default, rather than actually liking them.

Despite those complaints in how the characters were written, though, the acting for the most part was still good, especially from Stephen Lang who plays the Blind Man. The character is unafraid and seemingly unstoppable and Lang sells it completely. Lang also always has a menacing, grim look on his face and it’s downright frightening in multiple scenes.

Another effective element in “Don’t Breathe” were the technical aspects, such as the sound and the camerawork. Every sound, from a creak of the floor to a loud bang, adds to the creepy atmosphere and keeps the tension. Meanwhile, multiple scenes are well shot, for example, there is a sequence where a character just barely avoids getting caught in a hallway as the Blind Man is walking through and the camerawork is great.

The protagonists in “Don’t Breathe” and the weaker first and third acts hold the film back from being a horror classic. However, there are enough thrills and chills here, along with a good villainous performance from Lang, to make it worth catching at a matinee. 3 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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