‘Don’t Breathe’ goes full-fledged scary in brand new horror flick | Wiki­Commons

On Sept. 8, 1960, Alfred Hitchcock shocked the world with “Psycho,” one of the greatest mas­ter­pieces in the history of horror. It was the first film ever to use fake blood, and its scare-factor was rooted in a boldly crafted atmos­phere.

Since “Psycho,” the horror genre has evolved. From the first “Hal­loween” movie to “The Exorcist” to “The Silence of the Lambs,” film directors have striven to balance high-intensity scares with quality enter­tainment.

The horror film “Don’t Breathe,” released August 25, 2016, has been her­alded as a remarkable take on the horror genre. Under the guise of a foolish home invasion, “Don’t Breathe” smartly bal­ances well-exe­cuted sus­pense with twists sure to leave audi­ences on the edges of their seats.

The story seems simple enough: a group of three teen goons break into an old blind man’s house to steal the man’s cash. What could go wrong?

This simple premise is the first act of genius by the film’s directors because the audience is lured into the plot and then thrust into the rapids of true-to-life terror. The film’s set, rem­i­niscent of Jack Gordon’s house in “The Silence of the Lambs,” fills viewers with a feeling of ceaseless panic.

Because most of the film occurs within the lightless house, one would expect that after a while, the scenes would begin to be repet­itive. But this never happens. With every passing moment, audi­ences are pre­sented with a new scene filled with chilling fea­tures, the most striking of which is the house’s basement.

Second, the film’s antag­onist, known simply as “the blind man,” is the perfect match with the set. The teens quickly realize that they broke into the house of a dan­gerous psy­chopath who will use any means nec­essary to elim­inate his enemies and protect his secrets. This heightens the film’s tension and sus­pense to glass-shat­tering levels, since it is never clear what the blind man will do next. Though the audience expe­ri­ences waves of relief when the pro­tag­o­nists are about to escape through the basement, this feeling is swiftly choked when the exit’s hatch is thrown open by the weapon-wielding blind man.

“Don’t Breathe” dis­tin­guishes itself from other horror films with its plot twists. Many horror movies have sub-par, cheesy, and ridiculous plots that add nothing to the cin­e­matic expe­rience, sac­ri­ficing quality for the quantity of jump-scares and sin­ister musical inter­ludes.

The film does rise above these other less credible horror plots. Instead of a jump-scare every five seconds, films such as “Don’t Breathe” strive for mean­ingful scares, well-crafted story lines, and unex­pected frights.

While “Don’t Breathe” suc­ceeds with its atmos­phere, its antag­onist, and its unique plot, the film suc­cumbs to one stereotype of the horror genre: foolish and unin­tel­ligent pro­tag­o­nists.  

Viewers know from the second the movie begins that there is no reason to invest emo­tionally in the teens. When they first encounter the blind man in his home, they choose to do nothing while one of their friends is bru­tally mur­dered. While shock is one rational expla­nation for such behavior, this expla­nation quickly loses its believ­ability once the teens con­tinue to react with cow­ardice throughout the film. This is frus­trating to audience members because the teens are given ample oppor­tunity to shoot, stab, bludgeon, bind, or even drown their attacker, but choose not to.

“Don’t Breathe” is a gruesome and dis­turbing inter­pre­tation of a home invasion gone wrong. Despite its faults, the movie is sure to shock and disgust viewers who witness the potent evil and mystery that lies chained in the old blind man’s house.