Predator and prey go head-to-head in this home invasion flick, but which is which?
Three resourceful young crooks – Alex (Dylan Minnette), Rocky (Jane Levy) and Money (Daniel Zovatto) – get more than they bargained for when they target the home of a blind war veteran (Stephen Lang), who is rumoured to have hundreds of thousands of dollars stashed away. When the trio break in, they soon discover that money isn't all he has hidden in the house, and that blindness isn't such a disability for this former soldier.
Having made a splash with his ultra-violent 2013 remake of The Evil Dead, director Fede Alvarez transitions from stomach-churning gore to heart-stopping tension with this accomplished home invasion thriller. Unusually for the genre, Don't Breathe asks you to side with the invaders rather than the victim; Stephen Lang's terrifying performance is partially responsible for its success in this regard. Credit is also due to Alvarez's dab hand at cranking up the sense of terror as the trio try to creep around silently, so as not to draw the attention of a man hunting them by sound.
Clocking in at a little over 90 minutes, Don't Breathe is as propulsive as it is imaginative, barely giving you the chance to draw a breath between its tense cat-and-mouse set-pieces. It may not do anything particularly original, but it nails its premise extraordinarily well – and following on from his Evil Dead, it marks Alvarez out as one of the most exciting genre talents around.
Picture: Set primarily inside a dimly-lit house at night, Don't Breathe is a pretty dark film. Even so, the Blu-ray's 2.40:1-framed 1080p encode is very good. The palette inside the house often leans towards sickly shades of green or yellow, but other patches of colour are still accurately conveyed. There's plenty of detail on display, even in shadows, plus sharp delineation, and the all-important black levels are wonderfully deep.
Picture rating: 4.5/5
Audio: The subject matter means Don't Breathe's DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack has an important part to play, and it works very well. There's a palpable 360-degree soundstage on offer, with rousing dynamic peaks and low-level impact. Spatial cues are well positioned and effects pan seamlessly.
Audio rating: 5/5
Extras: Alvarez joins co-writer Rodo Sayagues and actor Stephen Lang for an extremely informative audio commentary. Further production details can be found in the disc's short videos covering the visual style, cast, set design and score. Alvarez also provides an optional solo chat-track for the disc's eight deleted scenes.
Extras rating: 2.5/5
We say: A must-see thriller with a DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix that will leave you breathless with excitement.
Don’t Breathe, Sony Pictures, All-region BD, £25
HCC VERDICT: 4/5
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