Don't Breathe, B
Rated R, 88 minutes
The original, tense new horror film "Don't Breathe" is a nice way to end your summer - on the edge of your seat. Directed and written by Fede Alvarez, who crafted the recent "Evil Dead" reboot, it's much more cat-and-mouse thriller than blood-and-guts, making it a cut above others in this genre. Rocky (Jane Levy), Alex (Dylan Minnette) and Money (Daniel Zovatto) are three Detroit thieves who get their kicks by breaking into the houses of wealthy people. Money gets word about a blind veteran who won a major cash settlement. Figuring he's an easy target, the trio invades the man's secluded home in an abandoned neighborhood, but the intruders must fight for their lives after making a shocking discovery about their supposedly helpless victim. Creepy and providing the right amount of intensity throughout, Alvarez's minimalist thriller "Don't Breathe" will make you catch your breath a couple of times. It's not perfect - the wobbly last act is a little too over-the-top when it briefly leaves the confines of the house - but it's still worthy of a few scares. Alvarez's tight direction helps the film move along, and it helps having an appealing cast too. Levy, of TV's "Subugatory" and looking a lot like Reese Witherspoon here, is affecting as the young heroine who just wants a better life with her young sister, while the skeptic, Minnette's (of the recent "Goosebumps") Alex and the slimeball, Zovatto's Money, round out the trio. The most memorable, unsurprisingly, is Lang's (a familiar character actor best known for "Avatar") stout blind man, who can ably defend his home in spite of his disability, not to mention harboring some pretty awful secrets in the basement. "Don't Breathe" works best as long as it stays in the house, once it leaves there in the last act (don't worry I'm still not giving away any spoilers), it becomes a tad far-fetched, even for something like this, reminding too much of Stephen King's "Cujo." Other than that, Alvarez and his lean, often scary "Don't Breathe" is an exciting reminder to never judge a book by its cover.