Don't Breathe

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Don't Breathe
Theatrical release poster
Directed byFede Álvarez
Written by
Produced by
CinematographyPedro Luque
Edited by
  • Eric L. Beason
  • Louise Ford
  • Gardner Gould
Music byRoque Baños
Distributed bySony Pictures Releasing
Release dates
  • 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$157.8 million[3]

Don't Breathe is a 2016 American horror-thriller film produced and directed by Fede Álvarez, co-produced by Sam Raimi and Robert Tapert, and co-written by Álvarez and Rodo Sayagues. The film stars Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto and Stephen Lang, and focuses on three home intruders who get trapped inside a blind man's house. The film was produced by Ghost House Pictures and Good Universe and distributed by Sony Pictures Releasing.

In contrast to his previous work on Evil Dead, director Álvarez decided the project would have less blood, an original storyline, more suspense, and no dependence on supernatural elements—which he felt were overused. The project, originally titled A Man in the Dark, was later announced in early 2014, with Álvarez directing, Sayagues writing, Raimi and Tapert producing, and Levy starring. Principal photography began on June 29, 2015, and wrapped in July 2015 in Detroit.

Don't Breathe premiered at South by Southwest on March 12, 2016, and was theatrically released on August 26, 2016, by Screen Gems and Stage 6 Films. The film grossed over $157 million and received largely positive reviews from critics, who praised the performances, direction, screenplay, and tense atmosphere. A sequel was released on August 14, 2021, with Lang reprising his role, to mixed reviews.


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. To the trio's frustration, their fence keeps undervaluing the items they bring.

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

At night, the gang approach the house, drug Nordstrom's rottweiler, then break in. Money puts a sleeping gas bottle in Nordstrom's bedroom. Seeing a locked basement door, he assumes the loot is hidden in there and shoots the lock. The noise wakes up Nordstrom, who overpowers Money, takes the gun, and kills him while Rocky, horrified, watches silently.

Rocky witnesses Nordstrom open a hidden safe to check his valuables. After he leaves, she opens it and takes the cash. However, he finds her and Alex's shoes and realizes there are more intruders, then returns to find the safe empty.

Rocky and Alex evade Nordstrom and enter the basement. There, they find a restrained and gagged pregnant woman who reveals herself to be Cindy Roberts. Rocky and Alex free her and attempt to open the storm cellar door. Nordstrom shoots at them, unintentionally killing Cindy. He breaks down and cries in distress over her body. Nordstrom then shuts off the lights, plunging the basement into darkness. After a blind chase and struggle, Alex knocks him out and they flee upstairs.

After blocking the basement door, they encounter the dog, who has awakened, and flee into the bedroom. Rocky escapes the room through a ventilation duct. Alex falls out of a window onto a skylight and is knocked out. When he awakens, Nordstrom shoots out the skylight, corners him in the utility room, and stabs him with a pair of garden shears. The dog pursues Rocky through the vents before she is captured by Nordstrom.

Rocky wakes up restrained in the basement. Nordstrom reveals that Cindy was pregnant with a "replacement" for his daughter. He then prepares to artificially inseminate her using a turkey baster, promising to let her go after she gives him a child. Alex, who survived by tricking Nordstrom into stabbing 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 traps it in her car trunk but gets captured again by Nordstrom. After being dragged back inside his house, she disorients him by setting off the alarm system, then hits him repeatedly in the head with a crowbar and pushes him into the basement. The gun fires into Nordstrom's side as he falls. Believing him dead, Rocky escapes before the police arrive.

Later, Rocky and Diddy see a news report about the incident. Nordstrom, who is recovering in the hospital and in stable condition, is reported to have killed two intruders (Alex and Money) in self-defense. He does not mention Rocky, Cindy or the stolen cash. Rocky and Diddy board a train to Los Angeles.

Cast and characters[edit]

  • Stephen Lang as The Blind Man, named Norman Nordstrom,[4] a veteran of the Gulf War who was blinded by shrapnel
  • Jane Levy as Rocky, a Detroit thief who wants to escape to California for a better life
  • Dylan Minnette as Alex,[5] a Detroit thief and Rocky's friend
  • Daniel Zovatto as Money,[6] a Detroit thief and Rocky's boyfriend
  • Franciska Törőcsik as Cindy, who is connected to the Blind Man through tragedy
  • Emma Bercovici as Diddy, Rocky's younger sister
  • Christian Zagia as Raul,[7] a fence
  • Katia Bokor as Ginger, Rocky's abusive mother
  • Sergej Onopko as Trevor, Ginger's boyfriend



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, Álvarez 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; Álvarez 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]

Álvarez has called the film 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 actually filmed there.[2] Álvarez estimated that the film cost roughly half as much as Evil Dead, and welcomed the change, as it allowed for less studio interference.[8] Filming wrapped in August 2015.[11]


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


Critical response[edit]

On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 88% based on 241 reviews, with an average rating of 7.30/10. 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."[13] 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".[14] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.[15]

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 Álvarez 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."[16] 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 Álvarez is as good as it gets when it comes to playing with things that go bump in the night."[17]

Amy Nicholson of MTV wrote in a positive review, "Álvarez knows the size of his ambitions. He's written one great ghoul, surrounded him with targets, and simply let him let rip."[18] The Verge called it "an impressive script-flip from the 1967 classic Wait Until Dark".[19] Álvarez says he wrote the script before watching Wait Until Dark.[20] Jim Hemphill of Filmmaker Magazine called it "the best American horror film in twenty years."[21]

Box office[edit]

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.[22][23][24] For Sony Pictures, it became their second late-summer surprise hit of 2016, following Sausage Party.[25]

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,[26][27] and many publications noting it could be the first film to dethrone Suicide Squad from the top of the box office.[28] It made $1.9 million from Thursday night preview screenings, at 2,500 theaters,[15][29] and $10 million on its opening day.[30] 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.[15] Compared to other 2016 horror films, Lights Out had a drop of 22%, while The Conjuring 2 fell by 15%.[15] 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.[15][31] 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.[32] As a result, it became only the second horror film to top the weekend box office two weekends in a row since 2014.[33] 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 Álvarez's previous film, the Evil Dead reboot.[34][35]

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.[25][36]

Outside North America, the film's biggest debuts were in the United Kingdom ($1.3 million), Germany ($1.3 million), Brazil ($1.2 million) Mexico ($1.2 million) and Australia ($1 million).[37][38][39][40] It scored the third biggest opening of the year for a Hollywood film in Korea with $4.5 million.[41] It's on pace to become the highest-grossing horror film in Uruguay.[39]


Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref.
Critics' Choice Movie Awards December 11, 2016 Best Sci-Fi/Horror Movie Don't Breathe Nominated [42]
Empire Awards March 19, 2017 Best Horror Don't Breathe Nominated [43]
Fangoria Chainsaw Awards October 2, 2017 Best Film Don't Breathe Nominated [44]
Best Supporting Actor Stephen Lang Won
Saturn Awards June 28, 2017 Best Horror Film Don't Breathe Won [45]
St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association December 18, 2016 Best Horror/Science-Fiction Film Don't Breathe Nominated [46]


In November 2016, writer and director Fede Álvarez announced that a sequel was in the works.[47] 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."[48] In November 2018, Álvarez announced the script for the sequel was completed.[49]

In January 2020, the title was announced as Don't Breathe 2. The film was to begin principal photography in April 2020, with a script co-written by Rodo Sayagues and Álvarez, but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[50][51][52] Eventually, Sayagues served as director, while the latter served as a producer.[53][54] On October 8, 2020, Lang revealed filming had completed.[55] The film was released on August 13, 2021.[56]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Don't Breathe (15)". British Board of Film Classification. July 29, 2016. Retrieved July 29, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d Dennis Harvey (March 13, 2016). "'Don't Breathe' Review: Fede Alvarez's Home-Invasion Thriller". Variety. Retrieved March 14, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c "Don't Breathe (2016)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 10, 2017.
  4. ^ "Don't Breathe Director Fede Alvarez's Advice To Future Filmmakers". Screen Rant. August 25, 2016. Retrieved August 14, 2022.
  5. ^ Rebecca Ford (May 22, 2015). "'Prisoners' Actor Dylan Minnette Joins Fede Alvarez's Horror Film (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 24, 2015.
  6. ^ a b Lincoln, Ross A. (May 1, 2015). "'A Man In The Dark' Casting: Daniel Zovatto Joins Fede Alvaraz Movie". Deadline. Retrieved October 24, 2015.
  7. ^ "CHRISTIAN ZAGIA: EN LAS TABLAS". April 19, 2013.
  8. ^ a b c d "Interview: Director Fede Álvarez on Don't Breathe". March 13, 2016. Retrieved August 5, 2016.
  9. ^ Rife, Katie (August 27, 2016). "Don't Breathe's Fede Álvarez on reversing our horror expectations". The A.V. Club. Retrieved August 30, 2016.
  10. ^ "On the Set for 7/6/15: J.K. Simmons Starts Shooting The Runaround, Sam Raimi Produced Thriller Rolls Cameras". SSN Insider. July 6, 2015. Archived from the original on November 13, 2015. Retrieved October 24, 2015.
  11. ^ McDonald, Adrian (May 1, 2016). "2016 Feature Film Study" (PDF). FilmL.A. p. 23. Archived (PDF) from the original on December 30, 2022. Retrieved December 30, 2022.
  12. ^ "Don't Breathe". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved May 14, 2016.
  13. ^ "Don't Breathe (2016)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved December 28, 2021.
  14. ^ "Don't Breathe reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved December 28, 2021.
  15. ^ a b c d e Anthony D'Alessandro (August 26, 2016). "'Don't Breathe' Inhales Cash On Thursday Night – Box Office". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved August 1, 2021. to have a B+ CinemaScore and 87% fresh Rotten Tomatoes score is incredibly rare for a horror movie
  16. ^ Vejvoda, Jim (August 24, 2016). "Don't Breathe Review". IGN. Retrieved August 27, 2016.
  17. ^ Travers, Peter (August 26, 2016). "'Don't Breathe' Review: Home-Invasion Thriller Will Scare You Sightless". Rolling Stone. Retrieved August 27, 2016.
  18. ^ Nicholson, Amy (August 24, 2016). "DON'T BREATHE: IF YOU SCREAM, YOU DIE". MTV. Retrieved August 27, 2016.
  19. ^ "Don't Breathe is a ruthlessly efficient, claustrophobic terror machine". August 25, 2016. Retrieved April 12, 2017.
  20. ^ "3 movies that influenced 'Don't Breathe,' and 2 that did not". Retrieved April 12, 2017.
  21. ^ Hemphill, Jim (July 20, 2016). ""We Laid Out the Chessboard of the Movie": Fede Álvarez on Don't Breathe". Filmmaker Magazine. Retrieved June 8, 2021.
  22. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (March 20, 2017). "No. 19 'Don't Breathe' Box Office Profits – 2016 Most Valuable Movie Blockbuster Tournament". Deadline Hollywood.
  23. ^ Pamela McClintock (September 4, 2016). "Summer Box-Office Winners and Losers: From 'Finding Dory' to 'Ben-Hur'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 4, 2016.
  24. ^ Dave McNary (September 4, 2016). "'Don't Breathe' Frightens Competition at Labor Day Box Office". Variety. Retrieved September 4, 2016.
  25. ^ a b Scott Mendelson (September 11, 2016). "Box Office: 'Don't Breathe' And 'Suicide Squad' Hold Great, Meryl Streep Tops 'Ben-Hur'". Forbes. Retrieved September 11, 2016.
  26. ^ "'Don't Breathe' Could Suffocate 'Suicide Squad' During Sluggish Summer Weekend: Box Office Preview". August 24, 2016.
  27. ^ "Weekend Forecast: 'Don't Breathe,' 'Mechanic: Resurrection' & 'Hands Of Stone'". August 24, 2016.
  28. ^ "Horror Movie 'Don't Breathe' to Scare Off 'Suicide Squad' for No 1 Spot". August 23, 2016.
  29. ^ Rebecca Ford (August 26, 2016). "Box Office: 'Don't Breathe' Inhales $1.9 Million Thursday". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 26, 2016.
  30. ^ Scott Mendelson (August 27, 2016). "Box Office: 'Don't Breathe' Tops 'Suicide Squad,' Scares Up $10M Friday". Forbes. Retrieved August 28, 2016.
  31. ^ Scott Mendelson (August 28, 2016). "Weekend Box Office: 'Don't Breathe' Ends Summer With Huge $26M Debut". Forbes. Retrieved August 28, 2016.
  32. ^ Pamela McClintock (September 4, 2016). "Box Office: 'Don't Breathe' Winning with Huge $19M, But Plenty of Labor Day Casualties". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 4, 2016.
  33. ^ Brad Brevet (September 4, 2016). "'Don't Breathe' Repeats Atop Weekend Box Office Over Slow Labor Day Weekend". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved September 4, 2016.
  34. ^ Anthony D'Alessandro (September 4, 2016). "'Don't Breathe' Still Has Oxygen, 'Suicide Squad' Seizes $300M+, 'Morgan' D.O.A. : Labor Day Weekend B.O. – Sunday Update". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved September 4, 2016.
  35. ^ Scott Mendelson (September 4, 2016). "Box Office: 'Don't Breathe' Tops, 'Suicide Squad' Near $300M, 'Star Trek Beyond' Nabs $30M In China". Forbes. Retrieved September 4, 2016.
  36. ^ Anita Busch, Anthony D'Alessandro (September 11, 2016). "'Sully' Soars To $35.5M For Biggest Post-Labor Day Weekend, 'Bough' Breaks With $15M – Sunday Update". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved September 11, 2016.
  37. ^ Nancy Tartaglione (August 28, 2016). "'Bourne' Back At #1; 'Ice Age' Skates Across $300M Offshore; 'Pets' Prances Past $700M WW – Intl Box Office". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved August 29, 2016.
  38. ^ Nancy Tartaglione (September 4, 2016). "'Star Trek Beyond' Beams Into China With $31.3M Bow; 'Pets' Woofs It Past $750M WW -International Box Office". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved September 5, 2016.
  39. ^ a b Anita Busch (September 13, 2016). "'Sully' Flies Higher In Offshore Debut; 'Suicide Squad' Squashes $700M WW – International Box Office Final". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved September 14, 2016.
  40. ^ Nancy Tartaglione (September 18, 2016). "'Bridget Jones's Baby' Bows To $30M; 'Suicide Squad' Powers Past $400M – Intl Box Office". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved September 19, 2016.
  41. ^ Nancy Tartaglione (October 9, 2016). "'Miss Peregrine' Nears $100M Overseas; 'Girl On The Train' Chugs $16.5M; 'A Monster Calls' In Spain – Intl Box Office". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved October 9, 2016.
  42. ^ "La La Land Leads with 12 Nominations for the 22nd Annual Critics' Choice Awards". Critics' Choice. December 1, 2016. Retrieved December 1, 2016.
  43. ^ Pape, Danny (February 7, 2017). "Star Wars: Rogue One Leads Empire Awards 2017 Nominations". Retrieved March 3, 2017.
  44. ^ "Never mind Oscar, here's the 2017 FANGORIA Chainsaw Awards Nominees Ballot!". FANGORIA®. Archived from the original on August 6, 2017. Retrieved February 14, 2017.
  45. ^ McNary, Dave (March 2, 2017). "Saturn Awards Nominations 2017: 'Rogue One,' 'Walking Dead' Lead". Variety. Retrieved March 3, 2017.
  46. ^ "2016 StLFCA Annual Award Nominations". St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association. December 12, 2016. Retrieved December 12, 2016.
  47. ^ "There's a 'Don't Breathe' Sequel in the Works - Bloody Disgusting!". November 15, 2016. Retrieved April 12, 2017.
  48. ^ "Sam Raimi Says They Have the "Greatest Idea...Ever" For a 'Don't Breathe' Sequel - Bloody Disgusting!". November 17, 2016. Retrieved April 12, 2017.
  49. ^ Welk, Brian (November 3, 2018). "'Don't Breathe 2' Has a Script but 'Evil Dead 2' Does Not, Says Fede Álvarez". TheWrap. Retrieved January 19, 2020.
  50. ^ Welk, Brian (January 17, 2020). "'Don't Breathe 2' Taps Co-Writer Rodo Sayagues to Direct". TheWrap. Retrieved January 17, 2020.
  51. ^ El-Mahmoud, Sarah (October 8, 2020). "Sounds Like 'Don't Breathe 2' Is Further Along Than We Thought". CinemaBlend. Retrieved October 10, 2020.
  52. ^ Hamman, Cody (October 8, 2020). "'Don't Breathe' Sequel Has Been Filming! It's a Wrap for Star Stephen Lang". Retrieved October 10, 2020.
  53. ^ Welk, Brian (January 17, 2020). "'Don't Breathe 2' Taps Co-Writer Rodo Sayagues to Direct". TheWrap. Retrieved January 19, 2020.
  54. ^ Kaur, Pavneet (January 23, 2020). "'Don't Breathe 2': Filming Begins with a new Director". Scoop Byte. Retrieved August 12, 2020.
  55. ^ Reimann, Tom (October 8, 2020). "'Don't Breathe 2' Has Apparently Finished Filming and We Didn't Even Know It Had Started". Collider. Retrieved October 9, 2020.
  56. ^ Rubin, Rebecca (October 21, 2020). "'Ghostbusters' Sequel Moves to Summer 2021". Variety. Retrieved October 21, 2020.

External links[edit]