It’s phenomenal. And after grossing over 150 million dollars, against a 10 million dollar budget, you can officially categorize it as a sleeper hit. I should’ve known. Shame on me, for underestimating this when first seeing the trailers a few months back. I have to stop doing that. Some of these low-budget horror films, that appear to be aimed at the teen and tween set, are actually helmed by major talents. Director Fede Alvarez, who gave us the terrific “Evil Dead” remake a few years back, has me firmly in his corner now. Stephen Lang should’ve been my 2nd tip-off. What a tremendous character actor.
Three young people are desperate to claw their way out, from marginal existences in downtrodden Detroit. Rocky (Jane Levy…super), lives in a hovel, with her alcoholic mother, mom’s abusive boyfriend, and her sweet little sister. The young girls are desperate to escape to the California beaches. Money (solid Daniel Zovatto) is the aggressive, borderline violent, sort-of boyfriend to Rocky. And Alex (perfect Dylan Minnette) is the unhappy teenage son of the head of a home security company. So, the trio uses Alex’s inside information to break into homes and rob them. When they hear of a blind, military veteran (Mr. Lang), who lives alone and is keeping three hundred thousand dollars in his apartment safe, they determine that they’ve found a relatively easy path to riches. Big mistake.
It’s been an excellent year, for intense scare flicks. “The Witch”, “10 Cloverfield Lane”, “Green Room”, “Blair Witch”…that’s a healthy list. “Don’t Breathe” joins them, as a fellow chair arm grabber and nail-biter. The cinematically astute, will spot plenty of filmic inspirations here. That mousetrap of a dwelling, simply reeks of “Home Alone”. The classic “Wait Until Dark” should not be dismissed either. And do I catch a whiff, of 2010’s Oscar-winning, “The Secrets in Their Eyes”, in the denouement? Nice. Fede Alvarez, who also co-wrote the economical screenplay, appears to be a young master in this genre. Plus, I can’t gush enough, about the incredible Stephen Lang. As a young actor, I spent a day on the set with him, for 1989’s “Last Exit to Brooklyn”. What a varied and impressive career he’s built up.