Release Date(s)2016 (November 29, 2016)
Studio(s)Ghost House Pictures (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
- Film/Program Grade: B+
- Video Grade: A+
- Audio Grade: A+
- Extras Grade: B-
Don’t Breathe is the second feature from director Fede Álvarez, who also made the visceral and gory Evil Dead remake in 2013. This film lies on the other end of that spectrum, going more for tension than effects. Three small-time crooks in Detroit decide to rob a blind man’s house, not knowing that he’s actually more of a handful than they realized. Released in August of 2016, the film was a surprise hit at the box office, doing an enormous amount of business and receiving positive critical reviews.
The one thing that I’ve noticed about Fede’s movies is a tendency toward structural problems when it comes to the script and how it flows. Certain characters take actions that don’t really make a lot of sense or there are moments that simply don’t have a place in the story that’s being told. On the other hand, Fede has real strength in the editing room. He, along with his editors, know exactly where and what to cut. Judging by the deleted footage included on this new Blu-ray release, it’s clear that the movie could have been a disaster if certain things had been left in. I won’t go into spoilers here, but they’re prime examples of what’s wrong with a lot of movies made nowadays.
Don’t Breathe is taught and well-shot. The story itself is... well, let’s just say it left me with a lot of questions about the logic of certain events, including the ending, which left me scratching my head a bit. However, having problems with these sorts of things is always a sign of a good movie. If you find yourself nitpicking minor aspects of the story, then I’d say that the filmmakers did their job well. All of the performances here are solid and the revelations later in the film keep you guessing with no clear idea of where the story might end up. This is probably one of my more appreciated horror films of the decade, that’s for sure. It’s just great to see a movie that relies more on tension than jump scares or gore for a change.
The video presentation on this Blu-ray release is excellent. Shot mostly with ARRI Alexa Plus digital cameras, there’s little room for a lack of visual detail. Many digitally shot films tend to look flat, but this is presentation has great depth, thanks in no small part to the work of cinematographer Pedro Luque. Blacks are inky deep, while colors, though a tad muted, are bold. Skin tones are also accurate. Brightness and contrast levels are perfect and the general look of the transfer is crisp and well-defined. There’s nothing to complain about here at all. For the audio, there are three options to choose from: English 5.1 DTS-HD, English Audio Descriptive Service, and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital. The English 5.1 track is extremely aggressive and precise, utilizing all channels of audio with very pleasing results. It’s all about atmosphere and maneuverability throughout the surrounds, including some deep bass activity. Sound effects play an enormous part in the proceedings, and the score, although not overly prevalent, is mixed in perfectly. Dialogue is always accurate and clear, even when characters are little more than whispering. It’s an amazing presentation overall. Subtitles are also included in English, English SDH, and Spanish.
Although much of this disc’s featurette content is short, and more EPK in nature than in-depth, it’s still worth digging through. There’s an audio commentary with director Álvarez, co-writer Rodo Sayagues, and actor Stephen Lang; the aforementioned featurettes, 5 in all (No Escape, Man in the Dark, Meet the Cast, Creating the Creepy Cast, and The Sounds of Horror); a set of 8 deleted scenes with optional director audio commentary; a set of previews, which also open the disc; and a paper insert with a Digital Copy code.
Don’t Breathe is a brisk 88 minutes but never feels its length. It moves right along and tells a concise and thorough story. Sony’s Blu-ray debut of the movie sports an impressive A/V presentation, with some decent extras to back it up. Overall, the movie is a suspenseful thriller and will definitely put you on the edge of your seat.
- Tim Salmons