by Jasmine Weng and Daniel Stout
Don’t Breathe is a tense thriller about three thugs out to burglarize a blind man’s home. The stars: Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto and Stephen Lang; it’s directed by Fede Alvarez. Like the earlier film, Hush, it follows a similar plot line, only that instance a deaf and mute victim has three killers to deal with instead of just one (Click the “Movies” page for our review of Hush). In both, the criminals learn that skills of the blind far exceed their own. At a time of economic stress and fewer opportunities, Don’t Breathe is a mantra to fight on, stressing the hidden abilities of those considered less equipped for today’s challenges.
The victim takes down the first foe, and the cat and mouse game begins. Good performances and a tightly written script make for edge-of-your-seat thrills. Those skeptical of the seemingly implausible plot, will delight in the edgy realism. Watching Don’t Breathe you’ll stop to catch your breath.
Unlike Hush, the depth of the perpetrators draws empathy for them; good guys and bad guys aren’t easily discernible. Rocky, one of the burglars, just wants to feed his daughter. Poverty’s pain is an underlying theme a la Hugo’s Les Miserables where a symbolic piece of bread can mean survival and, perhaps, a new start morally. Peculiarly, the impoverished might identify with law breakers.
The gospel message is to act like Christ, and sacrifice for your loved ones. On the other hand, the blind man defends himself, conveying the second message: there’s always a way out, despite any disability; great is the will of the soul. Never underestimate yourself or others, despite seeming weakness. Challenges develop the will; that’s a dominant theme. Don’t Breathe raises more questions than it answers. Plot lines may be closed, but not the dilemmas of hard times remain open questions.