Don’t Breathe opens with the lifeless bloodied body of a young woman being dragged down a deserted street out in the sticks of the Detroit suburbs. From the get-go it paints itself as horror but what you get is more of a survival thriller.
Bad boy Money, pretty boy Alex and young single mum Rocky are petty (and pretty) burglars. Using the keys Alex’s security firm-owning dad has hidden in his desk, they like to raid the homes of the wealthy and help themselves. When they get the opportunity to break into the home of a gulf war veteran rumoured to have accrued a small fortune after the tragic death of his daughter, they find it too good to turn down.
Just so we don’t absolutely hate our troublesome trio, we’re given a character to root for in Rocky. Stuck at home with a young daughter, having to live with her deadbeat trailer trash mom and her boyfriend, Rocky has dreams of escaping with her little girl and giving her a better life. Alex is the good boy gone bad who went Rocky to run off with, whilst Money is the more one dimensional gangsta thug who likes to whip it out and pee on the floor of his victims for extra measure.
We have to care for them because the following turn of events would make us detest them had we not been fed some redeeming qualities. Their mark, the gulf war vet… is blind. Oh no, I hear you cry, how could we root for a bunch of no marks who’d rob from a blind man? Well… you kinda do. Because from the offset this film tells you they’re getting in above their heads.
Before they even get into the guy’s house they meet his fierce Rottweiler in a Cujo-tinged jump scare that worked its magic all over the cinema. And then the jump scares keep coming. If you’ve seen the trailer then it’s no massive spoiler to learn that The Blind Man is a bad bad dude. He’s not the kind of guy you burgle. In fact he’s not the kind of guy you’d even look at the wrong way. So when he finds these punks rooting through his house looking for his fortune, things turn real ugly, real fast.
Don’t Breathe starts out pretty generic. The jumps are in the right place. The pace whips you along nicely until you’re sucked right in, with moral dilemmas piled on top of bone-crunching violence. But (sort of spoilery) when Rocky and Alex find themselves in The Blind Man’s hidden secret chamber beneath the house, complete with bound and gagged kidnapped girl… Don’t Breathe reveals a mean streak and a very black sense of humour.
Alex, as pretty as he is in a Teen Wolf boy next door way, is pretty disposable. But in Rocky we do have a plucky heroine we want to get through this ordeal. Her fight for survival leads to a pretty nasty twist involving scissors poised over her crotch, a turkey baster and a big old pot of The Blind Man’s jizz. No I kid you not. It goes there. So underneath the veneer of survival thriller we get our surprisingly nasty horror, which more than earns its stripes amongst the home invasion cannon.
Check out the trailer below. Do you agree with my review? Let me know. Tweet me at @jonnylarkin.