Blu-ray Review Crime

'Don't Breathe' Blu-ray Review: A taut and terrifying thriller that will leave you breathless

November 30, 2016Ben MK

Too many horror remakes fail to live up to the terror conjured up by the original. Most people, however, would agree that 2013's The Evil Dead is one of those rare exceptions. Now, director Fede Alvarez and star Jane Levy have reteamed for a followup — a film that turns the siege thriller genre on its ear.

In Don't Breathe, Levy plays Rocky, a teenager who longs to escape her dead-end, trailer park life in Detroit. But this ain't 8 Mile; and so to do so, Rocky and her friends/cohorts, Money (Daniel Zovatto) and Alex (Dylan Minnette), will just have to keep on robbing unsuspecting homeowners until they've amassed enough cash to flee to California. Then one day, Money gets wind of a blind Gulf War veteran (Stephen Lang) who happens to be sitting on a six-figure sum in cold, hard cash, and it appears that the three of them may have finally found their golden ticket.

What follows, however, is a whole lot of bad news for our not-so-heroic trio, for they soon discover that what their intended victim lacks in sight, he more than makes up for with his other senses. Locked inside the Blind Man's dilapidated home, they find their seemingly simple heist transformed into a bitter fight for survival, as the taut and tension-filled script by Alvarez and co-writer Rodo Sayagues twists and turns, peaking with the revelation that the character audiences have been rooting for is as despicable as an antagonist from the Saw franchise.

As for the film's scares — which, for the most part, aren't of the cheap variety — they're paced out evenly, and the grueling violence proves appropriately disturbing. But, of course, if you saw The Evil Dead, you probably already figured as much. Whether it's a point-blank gunshot to the head or someone being viciously impaled with a pair of rusty garden shears, it's impossible to predict what kind of ultimate fate some of these characters will meet. The only thing that's truly guaranteed is that you'll never look at a turkey baster quite the same way again.

Don't Breathe arrives on Blu-ray boasting a crisp and terrifically film-like 1080p transfer; and while the majority of the movie takes place at night, within the claustrophobic confines of a darkened house, there's still plenty to praise about the disc's image quality, which does an excellent job replicating the look of the feature as it appeared in theaters. Fine details in faces, clothing and environments are prevalent throughout the movie, contrast levels are strong, and, despite the relatively restrained color palette, hues are robust and vivid when called for. Equally impressive is the disc's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix, which channels both the dialogue and the tension-building score with crystal clarity, while also jolting viewers with the sounds of a snarling dog, gunshots and terrified screams, not to mention the more subtle sounds of creaking floorboards and panicked whispers.

Sony's single-disc Blu-ray release includes an UltraViolet digital copy and the following Blu-ray extras:

  • Commentary with Fede Alvarez, Rodo Sayagues and Stephen Lang - The film's director, co-writer and one of its stars talk about its original title, shooting in Detroit and Budapest, keeping CGI effects to a minimum, the inspiration behind the movie, alternate takes and deleted scenes, the cinematography and more.
  • No Escape (2:56) - Director Fede Alvarez, Cinematographer Pedro Luque and the cast explain the film's visual style.
  • Man in the Dark (3:17) - A look at the character of the Blind Man (warning: spoilers).
  • Meet the Cast (4:04) - A look at the characters played by Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Stephen Lang and Daniel Zovatto (warning: spoilers again).
  • Creating the Creepy House (3:51) - Production Designer Naaman Marshall gives viewers a tour of the house built specifically for the film (warning: more spoilers).
  • The Sounds of Horror (1:49) - Director Fede Alvarez and Composer Roque BaƱos talk about the film's score.
  • Deleted Scenes (15:17) - Eight scenes, playable with or without commentary by Director Fede Alvarez ("A Blind Man Gardening," "The Ladybug Song," "Father and Son," "Diner Dancing," "Only a Father Understands," "Alex Calls Dad," "There is No God" and "Rocky Kisses Alex").

Don't Breathe is available from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment as of November 29th, 2016. The Blu-ray features English and Portuguese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French, Spanish and Thai Dolby Digital 5.1, and English Dolby Digital 5.1 Descriptive Audio tracks. The film is presented with English, English SDH, Cantonese, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, French, Indonesian, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish and Thai subtitles. The total runtime is 1 Hr. 28 Mins.

* Reviewer's note: Portions of this Blu-ray review were adapted from my original review of the theatrical release, published on August 25th, 2016.

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