I was expecting a lot more from Don’t Breathe as one of its producers was Sam Raimi and it was directed by Fede Alvarez. Who directed the 2013 version of Evil Dead, a film that I actually liked more than I feel I should have. I wish I had one sole issue with Don’t Breathe, but sadly I have a few. None major, but they do pile up. Mostly, it’s that Don’t Breathe doesn’t feel like it brought anything new to the table. Or even old that has been rehashed in a new way. Generic for lack of a better word.
Don’t Breathe opens with a woman being dragged down an deserted street by a older man. Before abruptly shifting to three people, Rocky (Jane Levy), her boyfriend Money (Daniel Zovatto) and their friend Alex (Dylan Minnette) in the middle of a home burglary. One that they get away from without being caught. While fencing the stolen goods Money gets a tip, a old man whose daughter was killed in a car accident keeps the settlement money locked up in his home. The amount of money makes Alex worried as it would come with a higher jail time if they were to get caught, making him back out of the robbery. But Rocky, who is trying to escape her awful home life with her little sister to California, persuades him to join. They case the house, which is located in a desolate part of town where he is the last remaining person and learn the man (Stephen Lang), is a blind army vet. Who lives alone and is a shut in. The trio decided to break in and perform the robbery with the blind man in his home that night. After drugging the Blind Mand dog and breaking in, they’re unable to find the money. They do discover that basement door is padlocked shut. Money reveals that he brought a gun, something that Alex doesn’t agree with as the firearm increases the potential jail time again, along with giving the Bling Man the right to shoot them and leaves. Money shoots the lock off the basement door, which wakes the Blind Man who goes to investigate. He then fights Money before taking his gun and shoots him in the head killing him. He then checks his hidden safe to make sure his money is still there, which is witnessed by Rocky. Who hid once the Blind Man killed Money, and steals the money from the safe once he leaves. Alex returns after hearing the gunshots and gets trapped in the house as the Blind Man locks the doors and nails boards over the windows. Trapping them inside with the Blind Man, in hopes of escaping Alex and Rocky head into the basement to escape out through the cellar doors. In the basement, they come across a woman bound and gagged in a padded cell. She gives the pair a newspaper clipping, that reveals her to be Cindy (Franciska Torocisk) the girl who killed the Blind Mans daughter killing her. Alex and Rocky manage to free her and they try to escape the basement out the cellar doors. But the Blind Man is waiting for them…
Don’t Breathe steals quite a few elements from People under the Stairs. Three robbers enter the house in both films, both films involve people being held captive in the basement. Both films have a chase in the walls of the home with a dog. In both films the robbers are looking for large sums of money that’s supposedly hid in the house. I’m sure these points are accidental. But it made me feel like I had seen this film before, robbing it of a lot of its excitement.
The acting is good, with Stephen Lang plays a great villain. Jane Levy and Dylan Minnette have great chemistry together and both deliver solid believable performances. Daniel Zovatto, I was less impressed by. Though honestly, I don’t know what about his performance I didn’t like.
A major issue I have with Don’t Breathe is that the protagonists are thieves. One of which brings a gun, with noted intent to use it as he fears the Blind Man’s training in the military. So after he kills Money and starts trying to kill Alex and Rocky I have a hard time sympathizing with them. They did break into his home to steal the settlement money from his daughter’s death. Alex also seems to have no reason to be involved with these robberies other than his feelings for Rocky. The only one given a reason to need to steal is Rocky, even then with her cut from the first robbery would have been enough for her to get away. Sure she would need a job when she got away, but she could have escaped already.
Final thoughts, it feels old hat. I’ve seen what Don’t Breathe is offering before and I’ve seen it better done. I found myself more than once wishing that I was just watching People Under the Stairs in its place. I just wish that the film hadn’t tried so hard to make the Blind Man the villain, as by forcing so hard to make him one pushed the film into cartoonish heights at times. 7/10