Imagination is the true embodiment of fear. That’s how I feel about the latest Ghost House Pictures film Don’t Breathe, which represents a better addition to the horror genre in recent years but one that still proves less frightening than expected.
Following the lives of three delinquents who make a living by robbing various homes and selling the items stolen; Rocky, Alex, and Money are desperate to leave their miserable Detroit lifestyles in a switch for the sunny Californian coast. After receiving a tip, Money (Daniel Zovatto) informs the crew of their next and potentially the last job of stealing from an Army veteran who is harboring $300,000 in settlement money. They soon discover the man is blind and decide to break into the house the following night. However, nothing is all that it seems and circumstances take a turn for the worst.
At only 88 minutes long, the film has a nice pace of quickly establishing the scene before moving onto what we all came to see – a blind man turning the tables on those who thought it smart to prey on the weak. However, whilst Money and Alex are almost ignored in their character motivations and developments, the focus on Rocky (Jane Levy) holds our attention to the screen as we begin to identify with her the most. We understand her reasons for the pathway she has taken and we can relate to why morally, the gang has reasons warranted for literally robbing the blind. On the opposite spectrum, we also appreciate the emotional turmoil’s of the blind man (who remains nameless) and what has led him to become the person he is today. This altogether made it more interesting to watch, as you have these conflicting moral questions produced by who’s really in the wrong and if anyone is in their right with their actions.
But was it scary? The trailer made it look horrifying. A question that depends on who you ask but in my opinion, Don’t Breathe had more of a constant tense tone rather than an all-out terrifying horror factor. I will say that watching the trailer and the expectations of it were entirely different to the final product I witnessed. Whilst this doesn’t make it bad, there was one scene in particular that I loved how unpredictable and horrifying it was, it does go to show the power imagination has. This is what director Fede Alvarez does great in, by allowing the audience to think the worse of what happens next and what we don’t know. Unfortunately, in this case, my thoughts were far scarier than what actually occurred.
There are instances of character actions that made me groan as to why they weren’t doing this or why they did that but overall I was happy with how the plot unfolded. However, the labeling of calling it the best American horror film in twenty years is far from true, as there are plenty of other great and smart horror pieces that have come out and surpass the efforts of this film (It Follows, The Cabin in the Woods). Nevertheless, I’d still recommend seeing it, if only to see the ending and discuss who’s side you would take.