Justice blind in ‘Don’t Breathe’

Justice blind in ‘Don’t Breathe’

Fede Alvarez’s new horror, “Don’t Breathe,” lives up to its title by leaving viewers absolutely breathless.

The movie tells the story of a trio of young robbers—Rocky (Jane Levy), Alex (Dylan Minnette), and Rocky’s boyfriend, Money (Daniel Zovatto)—and their home invasion gone wrong.

When the normally small-time, smash-and-grab robbers catch wind that a blind veteran (Stephen Lang) is sitting on a $300K s e t t l e m e n t from when his daughter was killed by vehicular manslaughter, they begin to devise their plan, but quickly realize their target is not as simple as they make him out to be.

Alvarez’s use of effective cinematography leaves viewers constantly guessing and feeling the same state of panic the characters are in. The use of colors like deep greens, warm oranges and putrid yellow in the film evokes a feeling of disgust and panic.

High angles and quick camera movements add to the panicked feeling as well. Lighting also plays a huge part in “Don’t Breathe” and its ability to psychologically terrify viewers.

In one scene, the unnamed blind man turns off the power, thrusting the trio into darkness. The sense of helplessness and fear that the dark causes transfers to the viewer, forcing them to feel what Alex, Rocky and Money are feeling. Alvarez did not rely on cheap jump scares or excessive gore to terrify the audience; rather, he used the power of the human mind and how it reacts to cinematics.

In my opinion, what made this movie great is how well the characters and the plot are developed. At the start, it seems as though the trio are horrible people, about to rob an old man blind (pun intended), but as the plot develops, it reveals itself to be far more sinister than that. The plot develops in a way that creates moral ambiguity. There is no true villain or hero.

The concept of good and evil not being so black and white is incredibly rare in modern film, and this aspect is what sets “Don’t Breathe” apart from other new releases of its genre. I also found the characters to be well developed in comparison to other horror and thrillers.

Alvarez went to great lengths to develop Rocky’s character and to give her a compelling backstory, enough so that she definitely earned her strong female lead status. The only flaw here is that while Rocky was highly developed, I found that Alex and Money to be very surface-level characters. For these reasons, I give “Don’t Breathe” a four out of five stars.

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