2016 has seen a pretty great return for the horror genre with 'The Conjuring 2', 'Lights Out' and 'The Witch' really impressing so far. 'Don't Breathe' provides yet another intriguing premise to the genre and fortunately for the audience, gives an entertaining and very effective thriller.
'Don't Breathe' may just be one of the most tense film of the year as there are so many close encounters throughout the film, you are continuously on the edge of your seat. With the three burglars breaking in, they soon realise that the blinded war veteran is a much bigger problem than they anticipated and everything soon turns south. The film constantly looks for new ways for how to create these close encounters and does well to not continuously go back to the same tactics. This keeps the film feeling fresh throughout, creating an entertaining viewing. That's something that the scares in the film deserve credit for too. Most of the scares come from frightening acts and just how scary Stephen Lang is as the blind man. His actions are terrifying and does seem reasonably realistic which is terrifying. This is even more true when the dark twist is revealed and we see a much darker side to the blind man than we had anticipated. There are some jump scares but they are effective and used to good effect such as when the characters are in the dark with the blind man trying to get a hold of the intruders. Refreshing once again to see a horror not rely on cheap tricks to be very effective.
What is also effective is how the film makes you wonder who is in the right here. At first, you are against these robbers as they are breaking into what seems like a harmless mans home for their own personal greed. You don't really see a reason to like them apart from Rocky wanting to create a better life for her daughter. Even once the blind man turns vicious, it seems more than fair enough for him to react this way. However, as the film progresses, we learn more about the blind man who leads you to actually feel and root for the intruders. It does this very cleverly and does not rush as it builds the story magnificently.
Stephen Lang really shines in this movie as the very dangerous blind man. Early on he seems very timid and not a threat at all. His performance is very effective as he does fool you into thinking he may not be a problem and then a quick switch shows him go from clam to crazy, turning him into an unstoppable force. He then is very scary, showing that you a realistic horror villain can be just as threatening. Jane Levy also does well as Rocky who seems to be taken back by the events that have just occurred, reacting very well towards them. She is also very strong throughout the film as she is clever with what she does as well as not being afraid to take action against the blind man. The character of Alex played by Dylan Minnettee seems to have a very fast recovery throughout the movie as he takes a whole load of damage. At times it seems odd that he gets up and moves around as if nothing had happened. This does get a little annoying throughout the movie as its like he's not selling his injuries at all. It does pose a problem for the film and hinders the performance which was fairly solid.
There is a big twist in the film that is very effective but also at the same time puzzling. I won't go into too much detail about it as it may ruin the experience for you but you will be thinking to yourself how it was possible. There isn't much context given to it with no reason to how it happened and that there were no repercussions. It does seem odd that something so significant would go unnoticed with no questioning whatsoever. The lack of explanation seems quite lazy in all honesty as they just skip over it entirely.
Overall, 'Don't Breathe' has continued the good run of horror movies in 2016. A very effective film that does seem scarily realistic and does not seem that far-fetched. That really adds to the film making it that more horrifying. It is worth seeing but if you are squeamish, there will be some parts that will unsettle you.
'Don't Breathe' Final Verdict =