MOVIE REVIEW | ‘Don’t Breathe’ is chilling and relentless: Gaurav Bhat

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Film: Don’t Breathe
OTT Platform: Amazon Prime Video
Rating: 4 stars out of 5

It’s been a while since any movie sent a chill down my spine, and when I began watching the 2016 American thriller Don’t Breathe (produced and directed by Fede Álvarez) on Amazon Prime Video, till 15 minutes into the film, I didn’t realize what was lurking around the corner!

The film, from the makers of Evil Dead, begins at a slow pace with Rocky (Jane Levy), Alex (Dylan Minnette), and Money (Daniel Zovatto) — three criminals whose professional career centres around B&E into homes for stealing valuables. Rocky, who is the most interesting of the three characters, has bigger motives than the other two. She wants to move to California with her younger sister Diddy to escape from their abusive mother. Much to the trio’s chagrin, however, the items they steal always keep getting undervalued by their fence.

Film: Don’t Breathe
OTT Platform: Amazon Prime Video
Directed by: Fede Alvarez
Written by: Fede Alvarez & Rodo Sayagues
Cast: Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto and Stephen Lang
A trio of reckless thieves breaks into the house of a wealthy blind man, thinking they’ll get away with the perfect heist. They’re wrong.

One day, Money receives a tip that Norman Nordstrom (Stephen Lang), a Gulf War veteran and blind, has $300,000 cash in his house located on a visibly empty Detroit neighborhood. Money sees this as their once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and convinces the other two to join him and break into Norman’s house. After this point, the entire movie is shot in Norman’s dark, multi-storied apartment.

However, at no point does the movie make you miss the outside, bright world as you get sucked into its various elements – shock, surprise, thrill and excitement at every minute of its runtime. In Hindi there is a saying that goes: तीन तिगाड़ा काम बिगाड़ा (three is always an unlucky/spoiler number), and that holds true for the three protagonists.

While the film is essentially set as a thriller, don’t be surprised if you mistake it for a horror flick. Don’t Breathe is like a relentless avalanche of tension and thrill, and while its story may well have taken just half a day to write, its technical aspects – editing and sound effects – take the crown for setting the pace and pitch of the story. The direction and narration grab you by the scruff of your neck and drag you to the edge of your seat as you shiver and worry for the three burglars, wanting to hiss out warnings like  ‘Cant you see ahead?!’ or ‘Run, you’re in trouble!’. As someone on YouTube remarked in a comment to the movie’s official trailer: This is what happens when you break into a blind old man’s house and realize that he’s a retired Daredevil…

In this chilling and relentless film, one of the most important characters is Nordstrom’s rottweiler dog, which the trio drug at the entrance of the owner’s house to break in. Only problem is — the dog and his owner don’t succumb as easily as the burglars expected, and once the three are inside the house, the director just takes over the movie and proceeds to give you a thrill-a-minute ride. Every shot in the film is the stuff of nightmares, in which safety seems just a few steps away, but sudden hurdles snap the three and vicariously, you with them, right back to the edge of the jaws of death.

Even as the film sets up into a cat-and-mouse, die-or-survive game which could well have become a predictable, even formula affair, Alvarez’s masterly craft and direction aided by the brilliant editing and sound effects make it a taut and gripping thriller.

Special mention for two stellar performances in the movie. Jane Levy is really the eyes of this movie. Her drive and desire to survive is what sets her apart from her partners, and her expressions and actions in tough moments make this a joy ride. Stephen Lang playing The Blind Man, is just terrific! He is the heart and soul of this movie. Watch out for him.

After the first 15 minutes, anyone who shares a spoiler about the film should be locked into their worst nightmare! In any case, when you start watching the film, you should most probably not be able to see what’s coming.

Don’t miss Don’t Breathe even if you aren’t a fan of the thriller genre! It’ll probably convert you. I, for one, cant wait for its sequel, which has already been announced.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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