Fede Álvarez’ Don’t Breathe centers on Alex (Dylan Minnette), Money (Daniel Zovatto), and Rocky (Jane Levy). They visit the house of a blind veteran (Stephen Lang), fully intending to unburden him of his estimated $300,000. To put it less mildly, they’re a bunch of dirty, rotten thieves. Because he is a blind, old man, they seem to think it’ll be a piece of cake. However, rather than breaking in and discovering the man feeble or dead, they are forced to flee his wrath.

This is definitely an interesting movie, and not just because Money, Rocky, and Alex are more humanized as the movie goes on. It’s the classic dynamic of defying expectations, by having the blind man seemingly prepared for them in every sense of the word. He seems adequately prepared to turn his own backyard into an impromptu burial site for these pesky home invaders, and it seems like he’s crafty enough to not be
disturbed by authorities. Basically, the house itself becomes like a weapon, too, though not quite in the wacky sense of Home Alone.

Hiding

Don’t Breathe works on many levels, and I kind of feel sorry for anyone who can’t appreciate the surprising amount of layers to this story. You know, every time a scary movie comes out, there’s a standard chorus of people who say, “Well, that’s not scary,” or “That’s not a horror movie, it’s a thriller,” or what have you. But for me, that debate is even less relevant than usual here.

Fede Álvarez does an impressive job of directing this almost as a slasher movie. It really does convey that feeling, without exactly being that kind of movie. It seems intentionally designed to make us forget about genre constraints because the story stands on its own. I was basically like, “Thriller who?,” “Horror who?” I also bought this movie on DVD with no internal debate.

Final Thoughts

Don’t Breathe reminds us that scary people come in many forms. Yes, there could be a ragtag group of home invaders, but there could even be some pissed off, semi-rich blind dude hiding out in his modest home (which, though better than a shack, doesn’t exactly scream “wealth” either). Before long, the movie accrues potential moral lessons — some which have nothing to do with breaking and entering.

Jane Levy in Don’t Breathe (2016)

Still, on that subject, know that you’re also putting your own life at risk if you do that. If you’re considering thieving, why not ask what you’ll do if the people are returning to the house, or they’ll already in the house and more than well-prepared to take out your raggedy-ass?

I don’t think I gave the whole story away. However, it’s difficult to discuss Don’t Breathe without thinking about the pitfalls of crime. Are you really prepared to break and enter without getting noticed by someone inside a house, then presumably hide the money from the police? Then, of course, you have to worry if anyone knows about it. Do you have witnesses? If you’re part of a group, would they rat on you?

These are the questions you should ask even if you expect things to go “flawlessly.” In one way or another, thieves must be prepared for others hunting them down, to lock them up, or exact some other for, of revenge. They say it can be notoriously tricky to successfully escape the police, so there’s also that.

Ultimately, Don’t Breathe might encourage some viewers to urge for a better world where theft is less likely to happen. If people are well taken care of, they’re probably a little less likely to rip each other off, or stalk each other down. Also, if you do have money as the blind man does, maybe you should plan to use it for something nice for the community, at least every once in a while. Though he initially seems like the main victim, we learn that he’s not exactly the greatest guy himself, to put it lightly. Damn.

What are your thoughts on Don’t Breathe? Let us know in the comments!

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Wade Wanio is an author.

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