★★★★★ out of ★★★★★
Pure claustrophobia and the most horrifying turkey baster of all time.
Maybe this wasn’t a good idea. That thought occurs to our protagonists about halfway through the first act. We are introduced to three hard on their luck Detroiters who have turned to a life of petty theft to make ends meet. The leader of the group, Money (Daniel Zovatto) reveals that he has a lead of a house with $300,000 in cash somewhere hidden in the house. It happens to be in a blighted slum that nobody will notice if they try and break in, and as luck would have it, the security is controlled by Alex’s (Dylan Minnette) dad’s security company so they believe they have a way in. And to make it even more of a cakewalk, the man is known to be a blind military vet who had received the money as recompense for the accidental death of his daughter. Money’s girlfriend Rocky (Jane Levy) agrees that this is the potential last big score, and convinces a reluctant Alex to agree, and because he has a crush on her, relents. No problem, right?
(Warning… spoilers ahead)
Wrong. After drugging the watchdog (a fairly fearsome beast), the trio sneaks into the house and starts searching for the hidden stash. However, they severely underestimated the capability of the blind man, Stephen Lang, who awakens when the burglars are carelessly noisy. Lang is a powerfully menacing figure, and yet he is the victim here. Our erstwhile protagonists are the home invaders and he’s going to defend his home. The blind man (as he has no name in the credits) catches and kills Money, and then puts his house in literal lockdown mode, trapping Alex and Rocky inside with him.
Much of the second act is Alex and Rocky trying to be as quiet as possible while trying to avoid the blind man who is unsure how many intruders were part of the robbery. They flee into the basement and find out that this man has some serious dark motives. They find out he has a woman chained up in the basement… the woman who accidentally killed his daughter, and has some extremely unsavory plans for her. One of which involves… a turkey baster. EEWWWWW!!
I’ve probably spoiled enough already, but from that key moment in the basement, the action ramps up, once the blind man discovers that there are more intruders in the house. (Very clever sleuthing on his part.) Lang’s blind man is a character for the ages. But he is at the same time a sympathetic victim for a good portion of the movie. So it’s a complex thing as how to process this plot. The effectiveness of the movie became self-evident where I realized that I was holding my breath too. Real scares. A complex villain. Complex protagonists. This movie was yet another piece of evidence that we are in a Golden Age of horror films. Since this is yet another huge earner, with a meager budget, this film is getting a sequel, but I wish it wouldn’t. It is such a great self-contained story, but they clearly left an out-clause to continue the story later, which is my sole big gripe.
Don’t Breathe is available free on Starz, and through Amazon, though you have to buy it at this time. I recommend finding it on RedBox or your nearby video store if you still have one!