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Don't Breathe

Don't Breathe

Released 9 September 2016
Director Fede Alvarez

Stephen Lang, Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto, Emma Bercovici, Franciska Torocsik, Christian Zagia, Katia Bokor
Writer(s) Fede Alvarez, Rodo Sayagues
Producer(s) Fede Alvarez, Sam Raimi
Origin United States
Running Time 88 minutes
Genre Horror, thriller
Rating 16

The quiet man.

If you've ever lamented the bad decisions made by characters in horror films then you will find Don't Breathe particularly infuriating. The bad choices begin from minute one when a trio of twenty-somethings break into a house where they believe a large amount of cash is hidden. As it turns out they're correct but unfortunately the cash is guarded by a blind man (Stephen Lang) with an excellent sense of hearing and a penchant for violence. Wannabe gangster “Money” is dispatched pretty quickly, leaving the heist in the hands of Alex (Dylan Minnette) and Rocky (Jane Levy), who, for some unfathomable reason don't choose to cut their losses and run.

What follows is a very effective, innovative home invasion movie where the victim becomes the aggressor. Director Fede Alvarez, who did a fairly good job of the Evil Dead remake a few years ago, has a nicely grungy aesthetic and a good eye for gritty gore. Ultimately though, the innovation only extends as far as the concept and the technical execution – the climax of the movie resorts to some disappointingly tired tropes as the female protagonist finds herself the potential victim of some particularly nasty sexual violence.

Although Alvarez's tongue seems to be firmly in his cheek throughout the OTT finale, there is still something inherently lazy about this kind of gendered violence – for me it feels like a flashback to those dreadful torture porn days of the early noughties. It also serves to undermine the status of the final girl; she is allowed to be tough but is always a potential victim because of her gender. If only we could get past this kind of thing the horror genre could really flourish and Alvarez's film would have been thoroughly satisfying. Instead, despite the effective shocks of the first couple of acts, Don't Breathe left a pretty bad taste in the mouth.

- Linda O'Brien