Don't Breathe
Sony Pictures // R // $34.99 // November 29, 2016
Review by Ian Jane | posted December 9, 2016
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
this review to a friend
R E V I E W S
Graphical Version

The Movie:

The most recent film from director Fede Alvaraz, probably best known for remaking Evil Dead back in 2013, Don't Breathe introduces us to three young adults as they're in the middle of a house robbery: a hot headed would-be gangster named Money (Daniel Zovatto), his girlfriend Rocky (Jane Levy) and their friend Alex (Dylan Minette). Since Alex's dad works for an alarm company, he's got keys and he's got codes. This means that the three of them can get in and out quickly before the cops are alerted to any of their activities.

When money doesn't get as much cash from his fence as he wants for their latest haul, he decides the three of them are going to knock over a house belonging to an old man who was blinded in the Iraq war. His daughter was killed when a rich girl ran her down and he got a fat settlement from the trial. Rumor has it he's got at least three hundred grand locked away inside his house, which happens to be the last place standing in an otherwise abandoned neighborhood in Detroit. They scope out the place to make sure there aren't regular police patrols and see the man (Stephan Lang) out walking his dog. Confident that this is as close to a sure thing as they're ever going to find, that night they give the dog a sedative and make their way into the man's house.

It all goes to Hell from there.

Made with a small cast and for the most part taking place in a single location (there is some setup that takes place outside the house), Don't Breathe is a remarkably tense film. The story here is lean, efficient and very well told. We get enough character development to establish who the three young crooks are, and then we're off! The blind man's story is given just enough detail to make us feel for the guy. He lost his daughter, he lost his eyesight… really, he's had a rough life and these three young punks want to take advantage of him? He instantly has our sympathy, but of course, without wanting to spoil things, he's not who they think he is. The way that the detail of his character unfolds is handled very well here, we get it in bits and pieces rather than all at once and it unfolds through the events that take place once the breaking and entering has happened. It keeps you guessing and gives the suspense more validity.

The acting is impressive. Daniel Zovatto's Money is a bit obnoxious, but he's supposed to be. He plays the part well and struts about with just the right amount of cocky attitude. Jane Levy as Rocky is quite a bit more sympathetic than Money is. We learn a bit about her home life and her motivations for wanting to rob a blind old man. Sure, it's not the right thing to do but we get why she might be pulled in by all of this given her situation. When it all hits the fan her fear is believable and she handles the calmer, more controlled situations in the film well too. Dylan Minette is likeable enough as Alex. He's in this not for the cash reward or because Money is his friend, but because he's clearly got feelings for Rocky. This is something that Money is able to exploit and to use to coerce Alex into helping him out. All three of these young actors are good. The real star of the show, however, is Stephan Lang as the blind man. This guy is intense! He has very little dialogue here, just a few lines really, but he emotes and uses his body language so well that it doesn't matter. We know what he's feeling and why and his performance in this picture is impressive in how intimidating he makes his character out to be.

The house that makes for the central location is an interesting spot to stage all of this. As the night's events play out we travel across the two upper floors and spend a fair bit of time in the dark, eerie basement. There is a lot of great use of shadow and light here, and the fact that the place is surrounded by abandoned homes and derelict buildings makes it all the eerier.

Overall production values here are really solid as well. The cinematography by Pedro Luque is great, the editing is tight and while the film has a couple of jump scares it relies more on creating a sense of dread and impending doom than it does on having things jump out at you and make loud noises. Roque Baños contributes a really effective score that helps with all of this. Don't Breathe is strong stuff: smart, scary and just really well put together.

The Blu-ray:

Video:

Don't Breathe arrives on Blu-ray from Sony in an excellent looking AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 2.39.1 widescreen on a 50GB disc. Shot digitally, the image is pristine and it translates to Blu-ray beautifully. The color reproduction on this disc is outstanding, reference quality even, while the black levels look nice and deep but never muddy up the fine detail that's present throughout the movie even in the film's many darker scenes. Skin tones look excellent and texture is consistently impressive. There are no problems with any crush nor are there any obvious compression artifacts or shimmering problems. Honestly, it's hard to imagine the movie looking a whole lot better than it does here. Full marks for the gorgeous picture quality on this disc.

Sound:

The only audio option for the feature is a DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track in English. Optional English and Spanish subtitles are included as is an English closed captioning feature. The audio here is just as strong as the video. Rear channels are used often to help build atmosphere and ambience not just with sound effect placement but by spreading out the score as well. The dialogue remains clear and audible throughout and the levels are perfectly balanced. There's nice, strong bass response when the movie calls for it but never to the point where it buries things in the mix. There are no problems here, the movie sounds excellent.

Extras:

First up, a far as the extras go, is a commentary track from director Fede Alvarez, writer Rodo Sayagues, and actor Stephen Lang. This is a pretty informative talk that covers a lot of ground, including what was shot on location in Detroit versus what was shot on a soundstage in Europe. There's a lot of discussion about the sets and the house where so much of the movie takes place but also some conversation about the different characters that appear in the film, the contributions of the various cast and crew members involved in the shoot, some of the stunts and more intense set pieces and quite a bit more.

Sony has also included a few featurettes, though they are on the short side. No Escape is a three minute piece that takes a look at the construction of the house set, the basement in particular, and what went into making it the perfect location for the film. Man In The Dark is a three minute piece with Lang who talks about what went into portraying the character the way that we see him portrayed in the movie, while Meet The Cast is a quick four minute featurette that basically just gives us a quick introduction to the primary cast members used in the movie. Creating The Creepy House is a four minute segment that delves deeper into the work that was involved in crafting the sets that serve as the film's primary location while The Sounds Of Horror spends two minutes exploring the sound design used in the film and discussing the importance and significance of the score.

Fifteen minutes of deleted scenes are also included on the disc. These are interesting to see and fill in a few bits and pieces of the story nicely. Outside of that we get animated menus, chapter selection and trailers for a few other Sony properties (but no trailer for the feature itself). The Blu-ray disc comes packaged with an insert card containing a download code for a digital copy. The standard sized Blu-ray case fits inside a cardboard slipcover.

Final Thoughts:

Don't Breathe is a remarkably tense and efficient thriller. Featuring some really strong performances and taught direction, the film hits the right balance of horror and psychological suspense. Sony's Blu-ray could have used a bit more love in the extra features department but the commentary is good and the audio/video presentation is top notch. Highly recommended.



Copyright 2017 Kleinman.com Inc. All Rights Reserved. Legal Info, Privacy Policy DVDTalk.com is a Trademark of Kleinman.com Inc.