Don’t Breathe, a thriller/horror movie directed by Fede Alvarez (Evil Dead reboot), is hitting cinemas on August 25 (Thursday).

Don’t Breathe might seem unassuming, overshadowed by the release of other thrillers that feature bigger names (Lights Out, The Shallows) earlier this month, but do not count Don’t Breathe out. It was creepy, it was suspenseful, and it was so intense that it was almost painful.

Alvarez first caught everybody’s attention back in 2013 with the gruesome Evil Dead reboot. However, this time he takes a completely different approach with Don’t Breathe, trading flying limbs for lengthy silences in the dark. In Don’t Breathe, Alvarez chose to focus on crafting suspense, tension, and humans with warped morals.

The storyline itself is incredibly simple. Three teenage thieves break into a blind veteran’s home, hoping to score the large cash settlement he received following the death of his daughter. The plan seems straightforward and fail-proof – the house is secluded and the blind man seems helpless, but things go terribly wrong for the thieves as we see the blind man transformed into a menacing force before our eyes.

The doors are triple-locked, the windows iron-barred, and the thieves tiptoe around the house fearing for their lives, dodging the blind man, who makes up for his lack of eyesight by having a heightened sense of smell, hearing, and brutality. Think the “blind mice” game we used to play when we were children – remember the one where one person blindfolded himself/herself and tried to “catch” someone else? This movie is basically a very, very advanced version of that game.

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Don’t Breathe features a tiny cast, and most of the movie takes place within the house, but Alvarez makes it work. What was the result of a small budget translates to claustrophobia on screen with Pedro Luque’s cinematography, making us feel antsy, uncomfortable, and trapped.

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Actor Stephan Lang (Avatar) seals the deal with his killer performance. With his clouded eyes and sinewy physique, he is a formidable hunter on the prowl. This is a refreshing change from the recent slew of movies featuring all-powerful, demonic antagonists. Don’t Breathe portrays monstrosity and terror in a very human form, and you cannot help but feel sorry for Stephan Lang’s character at times, while fearing him all the same.

Don’t Breathe takes us back the good old Hitchcockian days, and shows that you do not need a huge budget, special effects, or supernatural terrors to scare people half to death.

Directed by: Fede Alvarez
Genre: Thriller/Horror
Running time: 88 minutes
Rating: 4/5 stars

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