There are three of them. A streetwise gangsta, Roxanne (Jane Levy) his damaged girlfriend, the unremarkable nice guy that would have her if only she would realise it. They perform burglaries and fence the ill gotten gains.
This is the last job, with the loot supposed to be sufficient to leave Detroit and their past behind for good. And it couldn’t be easier, a remote house in an unpoliced area with the only occupant being an old blind man.
Now blind people for the most part don’t see well, but they generally hear better than most. So once the presence of the trio becomes known, and the willingness of the blind man to not go quietly into the night is made shockingly evident, so begins an extremely high stakes game of Marco Polo.
Unfamiliar surrounds can be intimidating, especially with limited visibility. Even more especially with a determined local literally ‘at home’ here, and incredibly motivated to not let anyone escape.
And when the lights inevitably are snuffed out, the advantage becomes overwhelmingly out of balance.
This is not lazy torture porn, this is a gradual heightening of tension that will have your every sense strained and your patience tested. Due to this efficiency you will already be on edge when the stakes escalate once again as the climax of the film nears.
Director Fede Alvarez makes the most of little. The bulk of the film taking place within the blind man’s residence. But the minimalism doesn’t end there; the lighting, the music, the cast, the dialogue, all sparse. Even the film’s most fiendish and indelible weapon is not even a weapon, in fact it is found in most kitchens. That won’t stop it from being given a different image from this point on.
Jane Levy must have mixed emotions when a call from Alvarez comes through. She was taken to hell and back in the Evil Dead remake, and now she is terrorised in a more realistic but equally horrible way in Don’t Breathe, the best horror film of 2016.
It’s a little too limited to be Great, but as far as bang for the buck goes, no film this year makes as much from so little.
Final Rating – 8 / 10. Fede Alvarez is building quite the CV. Hopefully no one gives him a pile of money to make the next Kevin Hart thing, and he can keep scaring us for a while…