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Don't Breathe

Don't Breathe

Don't Breathe is a 2016 American horror thriller film directed by Fede Álvarez, and co-written by Álvarez and Rodo Sayagues. The film stars Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto, and Stephen Lang, and focuses on three friends who get trapped inside a blind man's house while breaking into it.

The film was produced by Ghost House Pictures and Good Universe. The film premiered at South by Southwest on March 12, 2016, and was theatrically released on August 26, 2016, by Screen Gems and Stage 6 Films. It received largely positive critical reviews and grossed over $157 million.

Don't Breathe
Directed byFede Álvarez
Produced by
  • Fede Álvarez
  • Sam Raimi
  • Robert Tapert
Written by
  • Fede Álvarez
  • Rodo Sayagues
Music byRoque Baños
CinematographyPedro Luque
Edited by
  • Eric L. Beason
  • Louise Ford
  • Ghost House Pictures
  • Good Universe
Distributed by
  • Screen Gems
  • Stage 6 Films
Release date
  • March 12, 2016 (2016-03-12)(SXSW)
  • August 26, 2016 (2016-08-26)(United States)
Running time
88 minutes[1][2]
CountryUnited States
Budget$9.9 million[3]
Box office$157.1 million[3]


Rocky, Alex, and Money are three Detroit delinquents who make a living by breaking into houses and stealing valuables. Rocky longs to move to California with her younger sister, Diddy, and escape from their abusive mother and her alcoholic boyfriend. However, much to the trio's frustration, their fence keeps undervaluing the items they bring.

Money receives a tip that a man has $300,000 in cash in his house in an abandoned Detroit neighborhood. The cash was reportedly a settlement after a wealthy young woman, Cindy Roberts, killed his daughter in a car accident. The three spy on the house and learn that the man, Gulf War veteran Norman Nordstrom, is blind.

At night, the three approach the house, drug Nordstrom's rottweiler dog, then find a way in. Money goes upstairs and puts a sleeping gas bottle in Nordstrom's bedroom. The group search the house but cannot find the money. Seeing a locked door, Money assumes the money is hidden down there and shoots the lock. The noise wakes up Nordstrom, who overpowers Money while Rocky and Alex hide. After Money insists he is alone, Nordstrom kills him. Rocky, who hides in the closet, witnesses the man open a hidden safe to check his money. After he leaves, she opens the safe and takes the money. However, Nordstrom finds Rocky's shoes and realizes that Money was not the only intruder.

Rocky and Alex evade Nordstrom and enter the basement. There, they find a restrained and gagged woman in a home-made padded cell. The woman reveals herself to be Cindy Roberts. Rocky and Alex free her and attempt to open the storm cellar door. Nordstrom shoots at them and accidentally kills Cindy. He breaks down and cries in distraught over her dead body. Rocky and Alex rush back into the cellar while Nordstrom shuts off the lights, plunging them into darkness. After a blind struggle, Alex knocks out Nordstrom and they flee upstairs.

After blocking the basement door, they encounter the dog, who has woken. They flee into the bedroom, where they are trapped by the barred windows. Rocky escapes the room through a ventilation duct, while the dog attacks Alex. He falls out of a window onto a skylight and is knocked out. When Alex awakens, Nordstrom shoots out the skylight and corners Alex in the utility room, appearing to kill him with a pair of garden shears. Meanwhile, the dog pursues Rocky through the vents, and she is captured by Nordstrom.

Rocky wakes up restrained in the basement. Nordstrom hides Cindy's corpse under a layer of concrete. He reveals that Cindy was pregnant with his "replacement" child. He then prepares to artificially inseminate Rocky and promises to let her go after she gives him a child. Alex, who survived by fooling Nordstrom to stab Money's corpse, saves Rocky and handcuffs Nordstrom.

Rocky and Alex try to leave through the front door. Nordstrom breaks free and shoots Alex dead. Rocky flees as the dog pursues her. She manages to trap the dog in her car trunk but gets captured again by Nordstrom. Inside his house, Rocky disorientates him by setting off his house's alarm system, then hits him repeatedly in the head with a crowbar and pushes him into the basement. The gun fires into his side as he falls. Believing him dead, Rocky escapes before the police arrive.

Before boarding a train to Los Angeles, Rocky and Diddy see a news report about the incident. Nordstrom, who is recovering in a hospital, is reported to have killed two intruders (Alex and Money) in self-defense. He doesn't mention Rocky or the missing money. Rocky and Diddy board the train and leave.


  • Jane Levy as Roxanne / "Rocky"

  • Stephen Lang as Norman Nordstrom / "The Blind Man"[4]

  • Dylan Minnette as Alex[5]

  • Daniel Zovatto as Money[6]

  • Franciska Törőcsik as Cindy Roberts

  • Emma Bercovici as Diddy

  • Christian Zagia as Raul[7]

  • Katia Bokor as Ginger

  • Sergej Onopko as Trevor


Fede Álvarez noted that making the film was, in some ways, a reaction to his debut film Evil Dead (2013), specifically the criticisms that the film had too much blood, focused too much on shocking the audience, and was a remake. In response, Alvarez decided to make Don't Breathe, an original story that contained less blood and focused more on suspense over shocking audiences.[8] He wanted to avoid making a film dealing with the supernatural, as he felt that was too trendy.[8] Choosing to make the antagonist blind was a result of deliberately taking abilities away from him; Alvarez explained, "Sometimes you naturally give them powers and make them more menacing than a normal person, so we thought what if we do the other way around and take his eyes out and make him a blind person."[8] Alvarez has called the movie an "exercise in reversal" noting that the film deliberately subverts tropes such as the fact that the house in question is a "nice house on a scary street" as opposed to the opposite, or that the movie is a home invasion story told from the point of view of the invaders.[9]

On May 1, 2015, Daniel Zovatto joined the cast.[6] On May 22, 2015, Dylan Minnette was cast in the film, and on June 18, 2015, Jane Levy and Stephen Lang joined the cast. Principal photography began on June 29, 2015.[10] Though the film is set in Detroit, it was primarily shot in Hungary; only a few views of Detroit were filmed there.[2] Alvarez estimated that the film cost roughly half as much as Evil Dead, and welcomed the change, as it allowed for less studio interference.[8]


The film premiered at South by Southwest on March 12, 2016,[2] and was theatrically released on August 26, 2016, by Screen Gems.[11]

Box office

Don't Breathe grossed $89.2 million in North America and $67.9 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $157.1 million, against a production budget of $9.9 million.[3] Due to its low production budget, the film became a sleeper hit and was considered a large financial success, with a net profit of $59.1 million, when factoring together all expenses and revenues.[12][13][14] For Sony Pictures, it became their second late-summer surprise hit of 2016, following Sausage Party.[15]

Don't Breathe was released in the United States and Canada on August 26, 2016, and was originally projected to gross $11–14 million from 3,051 theaters in its opening weekend, with some estimates going as high as $20 million,[16][17] and many publications noting it could be the first film to dethrone Suicide Squad from the top of the box office.[18] It made $1.9 million from Thursday night preview screenings, at 2,500 theaters,[19][20] and $10 million on its opening day.[21] It fell just 1.5% on Saturday, earning $9.8 million, which is uncommon as R-rated horror films tend to do well on their first day and drop sharply in revenue from their second day onward.[22] Compared to other 2016 horror films, Lights Out had a drop of 22%, while The Conjuring 2 fell by 15%.[22] In total, it grossed $26.4 million in its opening weekend, far above initial projections by 120% and easily displacing Suicide Squad to take the top spot at the box office. It was the biggest original horror debut of the year (besting 10 Cloverfield Lane), the biggest Screen Gems August opening ever (beating Takers) and the biggest debut for an R-rated original horror film since The Conjuring in 2013.[22][23] Following its first-place finish, the film continued to dominate the box office for the second weekend, earning $15.8 million and an estimated $19.7 million for the four day Labor Day holiday, one of the best numbers ever for the long holiday weekend.[24] As a result, it became only the second horror film to top the weekend box office two weekends in a row since 2014.[25] The second weekend drop was only -40%, a remarkable feat considering the fact that horror films typically tumble at least 60% or more in their second weekend. The gradual drop was due to the holiday. It took only 11 days to surpass Alvarez's previous film, the Evil Dead reboot.[26][27]

Although the film fell to third place in its third weekend as a result of being overtaken by Sully and When the Bough Breaks, it continued to witness strong holds by falling 49% after adding another 333 theaters.[15][28]

Outside North America, the film's biggest debuts were in the U.K. ($1.3 million), Germany ($1.3 million), Brazil ($1.2 million) Mexico ($1.2 million) and Australia ($1 million).[29][30][31][32] It scored the third biggest opening of the year for a Hollywood film in Korea with $4.5 million.[33] It's on pace to become the highest-grossing horror film in Uruguay.[31]


On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 88% based on 219 reviews, with an average rating of 7.2/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Don't Breathe smartly twists its sturdy premise to offer a satisfyingly tense, chilling addition to the home invasion genre that's all the more effective for its simplicity."[34] Metacritic, which assigns a rating to reviews, gives the film a score of 71 out of 100, based on 39 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[35] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.[36]

Dennis Harvey of Variety called Don't Breathe "a muscular exercise in brutal, relentless peril that should please genre fans."[2] Jim Vejvoda of IGN awarded 8.8/10 and wrote, "Director Fede Alvarez delivers a lean, very mean thrill ride with Don't Breathe, tapping into several primal human fears and further establishing himself as one of the genre filmmakers to keep an eye on in the years ahead."[37] Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the film 3 out of 4 stars, writing: "This is some weird, twisted shit. Don't groan when I say Don't Breathe is a home-invasion thriller. Director Fede Alvarez is as good as it gets when it comes to playing with things that go bump in the night."[38] Kyle Smith of the New York Post also gave the film 3 out of 4 stars, saying, "Apart from its thin characters and occasional trite moments, as well as a silly attempt to set up a sequel, Don't Breathe is just about perfect."[39] Amy Nicholson of MTV wrote in a positive review, "Alvarez knows the size of his ambitions. He's written one great ghoul, surrounded him with targets, and simply let him let rip."[40] The Verge called it "an impressive script-flip from the 1967 classic Wait Until Dark".[41] Alvarez says he wrote the script before watching Wait Until Dark.[42]


AwardDate of ceremonyCategoryRecipient(s)ResultRef(s)
Critics Choice AwardsDecember 11, 2016Best Sci-Fi/Horror MovieDon't BreatheNominated[43]
Empire AwardsMarch 19, 2017Best HorrorDon't BreatheNominated[44]
Fangoria Chainsaw AwardsOctober 2, 2017Best FilmDon't BreatheNominated[45]
Best Supporting ActorStephen LangWon
Saturn AwardsJune 28, 2017Best Horror FilmDon't BreatheWon[46]
St. Louis Gateway Film Critics AssociationDecember 18, 2016Best Horror/Science-Fiction FilmDon't BreatheNominated[47]


In November 2016, writer/director Fede Álvarez announced that a sequel was in the works.[48] Producer Sam Raimi commented on the sequel and was quoted saying, "It's only the greatest idea for a sequel I've ever heard. I'm not kidding."[49] By November of 2018, Álvarez announced the script for the sequel was complete.[50]

See also

  • List of films featuring home invasions


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