DON’T Breathe takes all your usual clichéd horror conventions but then actually moulds them into something new.
The micro budget $10million film is director Fede Alvarez’s follow-up to the Evil Dead reboot and proves that a seemingly tired premise can be more than the sum of its parts.
It follows three young thieves who decide to break into the home of a blind Gulf War veteran (Stephen Lang).
He is sitting on a fortune (which for plot purposes is weirdly kept in bundles of notes in a safe rather than at a bank) after being given a payout for the death of his daughter in a car accident.
So the trio see ripping off this vulnerable, isolated resident as the perfect crime before they leave town for a new life. Obviously, things do not go quite to plan.
The characterisation of the three thieves is weak – you have the reckless one Money (Daniel Zovatto), the cautious one Alex (Dylan Minnette) and Rocky (Jane Levy), the love interest caught in between. You learn little more about them than that.
Don’t Breathe also follows the usual horror tropes likes the leads making blatantly stupid decisions before being trapped.
But it gets better from there morphing into a claustrophobic cat and mouse thriller that turns expectations and perceptions on their head.
Avatar’s Lang is fantastically creepy as the blind man who is not as helpless as he seems.
And that is just the start of what you learn about about this troubled character, one of the most original screen ‘villains’ in some years.
Filmmaker and relative newcomer to the industry Alvarez is being mentored by the duo behind the original Evil Dead films, Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert.
With Don’t Breathe, the Uruguayan filmmaker shows great promise in building tension, developing his own style behind the camera and finding ways to be original outside of the norm.
It is far from perfect but hints at better things to come.