Three disaffected youths, living in Detroit, (remind me to cross that off my list of potential holiday destinations), set out to rob the home of an elderly man rumoured to be in possession of a lot of cash. The youths in question are Rocky, (Jane Levy) who dreams of taking her little sister to California, the repellent Money (Daniel Zovatto) and the slightly more sympathetic, Alex (Dylan Minette), clearly along for the ride mainly because of his unspoken affection for Rocky. Getting in is a piece of cake, since Alex’s old man is a security guard who holds keys to various local properties – but once there, it quickly becomes apparent that this time, the trio have picked on the wrong house. It’s owned by ex-army vet ‘The Blind Man’ (Stephen Lang) who is nowhere near as vulnerable as his name might suggest.
As you can appreciate, you’re not exactly rooting for the main protagonists, so it’s to writer/director Fede Alvaraz’s credit that he manages to generate levels of almost unbearable tension throughout proceedings, as the luckless trio stumble around in the dark pursued by their seemingly superhuman ‘victim,’ unearthing several unexpected twists in the process. The Blind Man also owns one of the most terrifying dogs ever committed to the big screen – even the most devoted canine-lovers are going to flinch when he puts in an appearance.
Okay, so events do stumble on a little too long, even at a pacey one hour, twenty eight minutes, and there’s an unfortunate incident with a turkey baster that definitely leaves a bad taste in the mouth – but if the object of this exercise is to push an audience to the limit, Don’t Breathe largely succeeds in its humble ambitions. I left the cinema with my fingernails well and truly chewed.