Don't Breathe Review
Don't Breathe follows a trio of young serial burglars who decide to rob the house of a blind man who supposedly has a large sum of money locked away in his house from a settlement. During their invasion, the trio slowly uncover the horrors the old man has been hiding and quickly learn that, not only is he someone not to be trifled with, but isn't such an innocent old man.
Don't Breathe was a bar above solid from a home invasion film perspective. Its gritty nature and visceral treatment of violence reminded me a lot of the recently reviewed Green Room. I think Green Room wins by a nose, but both films are difficult to recommend to some crowds because of their material. Don't Breathe didn't feel as real as Green Room, but its subject matter was much more revolting.
Stephen Lang, who plays our blind antagonist/victim, is phenomenal. His role is nothing short of terrifying, particularly his crackling bass of a voice that sounds like a war vet who smoked a pack a day. And that term, antagonist/victim, can literally be tossed around by each character in the film. At any given point, you can empathize with each character, and yet despise their actions and motivations. This constant tug in perspective is not as irritating as it may sound. You may struggle to invest in the survival of any particular character, but the vague morality does make you invest in the story and the reveals that come along with it.
Those reveals are some of the more disgusting in recent memory. But, in a similar way to Human Centipede, it's the concept that is far more grotesque than the actual execution on film. I've heard a few refer to Don't Breathe as part of the "torture porn" sub genre. Even attempting to look at it through that lens I am tempted to disagree. Sure, the subject matter for a portion of the film can imply that concept, but most of the cinematic story in front of the camera doesn't revolve around it. Just because there is tension brought on by the violent and disgusting nature of our host doesn't necessarily a torture porn film make.
The acting and storytelling go a long way. I felt intrigued by the film throughout its runtime, even if it was cringe-worthy in brief installments. It's difficult to speak to the content of the film, on whether to recommend it to even a general horror audience. Some will find it unbearable, where others will "appreciate" the uniqueness of the tale despite the twist. I fall more on the side of applauding the film's merits rather than the controversial topic that is thrown about.
Horror Qualifier: 8/10
Horror Quality: 7/10
Film Quality: 6/10