Monday, 12 September 2016


Us lazy, condescending, presumptuous critics. We take our seats before the cinema screen with such expectations, such requirements, certain standards to be met by the film with which we're presented, a film that is the result of months, perhaps years of effort and expenditure. It seems so easy to us, how to craft an effective film, since we've seen it so many times before, and its opposite so many times more. Snap out of it: directors like Fede Alvarez aren't exactly a dime a dozen. This is the real effort, and you can bet your ass it wasn't by accident. Alvarez knows how to make a good horror thriller, how to 'craft (there's a lot of this) an effective (with a lot of that in mind) film,' and it's high time we stopped looking down on talented filmmakers like him, and started looking up to them. Don't Breathe is a high concept thriller, but one whose concept isn't sustained - an all-too-common flaw of such films, but one that, while detrimental to this one, doesn't cripple it as it should. Crucially, Alvarez deploys the same keen sense of ingenuity in the action, spatial dynamics, pacing and technical design of Don't Breathe even after he's shattered its formula; said formula, that high concept, is not all that props this film up, rather it is used only to enhance its director's presentation of his technique. It's a fine thriller turned into a fantastic one when Alvarez keeps it contained, hones in on those vital few features over which he has total, immaculate control. A more judicious mind might have helped bring some other features up to the same standard: the finale sequence is a dud, there's a shameless set-up for a sequel, and there's a rotten plot development midway that threatens to ruin the rest of the movie. But Don't Breathe gets swiftly back on track, back to basics, back to being one of the very best thrillers of the year.