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Don't Breathe is a 2016 American horror thriller film directed by Fede Alvarez and written by Alvarez and Rodo Sayagues. The film stars Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto, and Stephen Lang.

The film was produced by Ghost House Pictures and Good Universe. The film premiered at South by Southwest on March 12, 2016 and was released on August 26, 2016, by Screen Gems and Stage 6 Films.

Rocky, a teenage delinquent living with neglectful parents, promises her younger sister to move away with her. Looking for the right amount of cash to run away with in order to do so, her boyfriend, Money, convinces her to break into the home of a blind man who supposedly has a safe in the basement. Breaking in the middle of the night with her friend Alex, they discover the blind man is not as helpless as he seems.

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This Film Provides Examples Of:

  • Abandoned Area: Most of the action takes place in the only inhabited house in an otherwise deserted neighborhood in Detroit. Before breaking in, the thieves establish that there are no neighbors for several blocks. This means that no one will hear any gunshots, and no one will be calling the cops or coming to help.
  • Abusive Parents: Rocky's mother is very verbally abusive and also used to lock her in the trunk of a car as punishment for crying.
  • The Adjectival Man: Norman Nordstrom, "The Blind Man."
  • Air-Vent Passageway: Rocky uses this to escape a room since the windows are barred and the only door has the Blind Man on the other side. She's only barely able to fit, as Alex apparently can't. His Angry Guard Dog is also able to fit through them.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: The Blind Man is clearly suffering mental illness due to his blindness and grief. Living in total isolation hasn't helped matters.
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  • Angry Guard Dog: The Blind Man has a large, vicious rottweiler.
  • Anti Heroes: Our Main Characters are a couple of thieves, but they're sympathetic due to the greater crimes of the antagonist.
  • Anti-Villain: On the flipside, The Blind Man is, for the most part, protecting his home. That is, until the reveal shows his true colors.
  • Asshole Victim: Money spends his fleeting screen time being an obnoxious asshole, so that his sudden death doesn't overshadow the audience's sympathy for the remaining characters.
  • Big Sister Instinct: Part of Rocky's motivation for agreeing to break into the house is because she wants to give her sister a better home life.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Rocky survives and escapes with the money, giving her and her sister a chance at a better life, but Alex and Money are still dead. Worse, the Blind Man survives and, if a news report at the end is any indication, may escape punishment for his crimes, and ensuring Rocky will look over her shoulder for the rest of her life..
  • Black and Grey Morality: Our Main Characters are three burglars trying to steal from a blind man. The antagonist is a blind, insane man who has kidnapped a woman and forcibly inseminated her...the woman who killed his daughter in a car accident.
  • Blind Weaponmaster: The Blind Man is very dangerous despite his disability and is mentioned as having been in Special Forces.
  • Bound and Gagged: Cindy, the woman who killed the Blind Man's daughter, is kept tied up so the Blind Man can impregnate her.
  • Breeding Slave: The Blind Man has been keeping Cindy - the woman who killed his daughter - prisoner in his basement until she has his child (via artificial insemination). After she is killed, he attempts to use Rocky for the same purpose.
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: The Blind Man doesn't kill Rocky when he has the chance, because he has other plans for her.
  • Chekhov's Armoury: The camera lingers on a number of seemingly random objects as the three Main Characters initially enter the house, almost all of which serve some sort of purpose as the movie progresses.
  • Creepy Basement: The burglars think its just another house, until they discover the secret downstairs....
  • Curbstomp Battle: Money, a fit and tall street thug, doesn't put up any fight at all against the Blind Man.
  • Damsel in Distress: Alex manages to escape the house to safety twice, but returns both times to help Rocky.
  • Disability Superpower: Downplayed. The Blind Man's blindness is mostly played as a critical weakness that allows the thieves to stay alive as long as they do. The one time he turns it to his advantage is when he shuts off the lights in the basement, and it's only his familiarity with his surroundings that enables him to get the advantage, not super-senses. That said, as mentioned in Blind Weaponmaster above, he's really good at being blind.
  • Disappeared Dad: Rocky has one, leaving her with her abusive mother.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The break-in at the film's opening serves as this for the three main characters.
    • Rocky puts on rich people's clothes and lays on their bed, representing her desire to ditch the old life and start a better one.
    • Alex looks through some books, showing him as a more thoughtful, meek person.
    • By breaking vases and pissing on the floor, it is evident that Money is a rude and careless Jerkass.
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • Alex is the only one of the three burglars who continually expresses serious reservations about the robbery; he initially refuses to participate at all on the grounds that stealing $300,000 would enable them to be charged with grand larceny, and tries to walk out later when Money reveals he brought a gun, which would give the homeowner the right to kill them in self-defense. He's also understandably opposed to robbing a blind guy on general principle.
    • Money, the most amoral of the three robbers by far, is still very hesitant to actually shoot an elderly man. He actually has the Blind Man helpless at gunpoint early in the movie. His inability to follow through on his threats is what ends up getting him killed and getting a gun in the old man's hands. Furthermore, once he's in the Blind Man's grasp, he lies and tells him he's the only one of the robbers to give Rocky a chance at escaping.
  • Excrement Statement: Money engages in mindless vandalism of the home he breaks into, including pissing on the floors.
  • Foreshadowing: Shortly before breaking into the house, Alex wonders if the Blind Man is really asleep, as one of the lights is still on, only for Money to retort that light doesn't mean a thing to the Blind Man. When Rocky and Alex are in the basement, the Blind Man kills the power, as it doesn't mean a thing to him.
  • From Bad to Worse: Things get very bad very quickly for the Main Characters, and only continue for much of the film.
  • Final Girl: Rocky is the only one to escape clean.
  • Handicapped Badass: The whole plot of the movie is that the teenagers break into a house of an old blind man who turns out to be capable of defending himself very well.
  • Happier Home Movie: The Blind Man has a video of his dead daughter running on his television when Money breaks into his bedroom.
  • He Knows Too Much: The Blind Man realizes that Money has opened the door to the basement, and Money claims that he knows what's down there, thinking that it opens to a room that holds the Blind Man's money. We later learn that he's holding a kidnapped girl he forcibly impregnated, giving him reason to silence possible witnesses even before he learned he was robbed.
  • Hollywood Atheist: Seemingly out of nowhere, near the end, the Blind Man justifies his monstrous actions by claiming "There’s nothing a man cannot achieve when he accepts there is no god."
  • Hope Spot: Time and time again. Rocky manages to squirm through the vents and kick open a grate to the outside, only to be pulled back into the house by the Blind Man. Then she's rescued by Alex and they manage to get the front door open before Alex is killed. Then Rocky seems to make it out and survive the dog attack, only to be captured once more by the Blind Man. Finally, she overpowers him and manages to escape with the money... Only to learn that the Blind Man survived his apparent death.
  • How We Got Here: The film opens with Rocky being dragged by the hair through a street by the Blind Man.
  • Implacable Man: The Blind Man is very hard to take down. Amusingly, he has something of a Good Counterpart in that sense in the form of Alex, who can also take a staggering amount of punishment and keep surviving.
  • Irony: Being too quiet actually gives the Blind Man more of an advantage over the burglars. As seen later in the film, too much noise will overwhelm the Blind Man and make him flail around desperately trying to shut it off, leaving him open to attack.
  • The Jailer: The Blind Man is keeping the woman who killed his daughter prisoner in his basement. After she is killed, he plans the same fate for Rocky.
  • Jerkass: Money, who is established early as a carelessly cruel thug.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • The Blind Man survives and faces no consequences for his kidnapping, though he did lose the money Rocky stole.
    • Rocky survives the encounter and gets away with all the ill-gotten money she's stolen throughout her career, allowing her to achieve her goal of starting a new life with her sister in California.
  • Made of Iron:
    • Alex gets thrown out a window and lands on a skylight, later falls through that skylight, and is given a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown by the Blind Man, and still gets back up. Only when he gets shot again, just as he's leaving the house, does he finally die.
    • The Blind Man also takes an absolute beating. And unlike Alex, the ending reveals that he survives.
  • Mind Your Step: Twice a squeaky floorboard in the living room gives away the intruders' location to the Blind Man.
  • Motive Misidentification: The Blind Man isn't all that concerned about the money in his safe. What he's really trying to protect is the hostage in his basement bearing his child.
  • Mutually Assured Destruction: The scenario Rocky and the Blind Man are in by the end. Neither of them can rat out each other without giving away each others secrets.
  • Neutral Female: While Money and the Blind Man are struggling with the gun, Rocky, who's next to them, doesn't do anything.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished:
    • Alex has a couple of chances to get away but turns back in order to save Rocky. The second time, he's shot in the back just inches from freedom.
    • Alex and Rocky have a chance at escaping from the basement, but Rocky stops to save Cindy. It gives The Blind Man a chance to cut them off, shooting Alex in the ear and killing Cindy, as well as giving the Blind Man a chance to permanently seal off the cellar as an escape route.
  • No Name Given: The antagonist is only called the Blind Man. Word of God says the character's name is Norman Nordstrom, but this is strictly All There in the Manual.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The premise of the film is that the Main Characters have to be quiet in order to escape the Blind Man's house.
  • One Dialogue, Two Conversations: When the Blind Man first confronts Money, Money tries to scare him off by saying he knows what's in the basement and isn't leaving without it, thinking the Blind Man's safe is down there. Unfortunately for Money, cash isn't what's in the basement.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Alex and Rocky could have made a quick exit from the basement, but Rocky insists on saving Cindy, stating that even though she killed the Blind Man's daughter, no one deserves her fate. The attempt fails, but it's the thought that counts.
    • Even though Money is just another amoral low-life small-time crook, his last acts involve being very hesitant to actually shoot an elderly man and when overpowered, he lies to the Blind Man and claims to be the only burglar there to give Rocky a chance to escape before he is killed.
  • Posthumous Character: Emma, the Blind Man's Daughter, who is glimpsed only through photographs and a Happier Home Movie.
  • Prayer Is a Last Resort: Rocky indulges in prayer while shes's tied up and helpless. The Blind Man cruelly scorns her for doing so.
  • Protect This House: An inversion with the antagonist protecting his house from the Main Characters.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: The Blind Man's status as horror villain (as opposed to just a man defending his house from intruders) is established by The Reveal that he's kidnapped and forcibly impregnated someone.
  • The Reveal: The Blind Man is keeping his daughter's killer in his basement, and he's impregnated her to replace the child he's lost. Once she dies, Rocky's next...
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: When Alex learns that the Blind Man is, well, blind, he expresses hesitation at the idea of stealing from him. Money reassures him that just because he's blind "doesn't mean he's a saint." Though Money says it to keep the plan going, he turns out to be far more accurate than he wished he was...
  • Right-Hand Attack Dog: The Blind Man's guide dog is large and menacing Rottweiler, who is in fact introduced barking ferociously at the Main Characters. It's why their first step in the robbery is neutralizing it with sleeping medicine. But it eventually wears off and the dog wakes up. The Blind Man makes full use of him to hunt them down in the movie's third act.
  • Scenery Gorn: It takes place in a run-down Detroit neighborhood; what do you expect?
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: The driver who killed the Blind Man's daughter avoided consequences in part due to her family's money. The Blind Man, however, does not let her get away so easily.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Zig-zagged with Alex. Uncomfortable with the burglary, he abandons the other two early, but returns when he hears a gunshot. He later almost escapes, thinking that Rocky's dead, but returns to save her when he ostensibly hears her screams.
  • Shear Menace: The Blind Man goes to stab Alex with a pair of garden shears during the fight in the laundry. He winds up stabbing Money's dead body instead.
  • Shoot Out the Lock: An impatient Money shoots the lock in the Blind Man's house when he can't get the door open with a crowbar. It works... at a cost.
  • Shovel Strike: The Blind Man attempts to kill Alex with a shovel during the fight in the laundry.
  • Show, Don't Tell: The way the trio operates as burglars is shown entirely via images and actions rather than dialogue.
  • Silent Antagonist: The Blind Man only says a few words until the climax.
  • Slasher Movie: The movie's plot is a blind killer hunting the teenagers who broke into his house.
  • The Speechless: Cindy doesn't say a word in her entire time onscreen because she is gagged when Rocky and Alex rescue her and is killed before the gag can be removed.
  • Steel Ear Drums: Averted. Several characters experience realistic ear-ringing when a gun is fired close to his or her head (and when The Blind Man grazes Alex's ear with a lucky shot). The Blind Man is just as susceptible to this—perhaps even more so than the intruders—and it could explain why he fails to sense Alex and/or Rocky when they are nearby at certain points in the film.
  • Storyboard Body: Rocky has a new tattoo of a ladybug on her wrist. She explains to Alex that to her the ladybug represents hope and freedom (and why). When she gets to California, she plans to have the tattoo colored, and that will be the last time she ever marks her body.
  • Straw Atheist: The Blind Man justifies what he does because there's no God to stop him.
  • Tempting Fate: Rocky at one point taunts the Blind Man with a "You're useless out here!" The literal second she finishes that sentence, his dog leaps in her direction.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Money is just too dumb, and cocky, to live. The Blind Man was (apparently) incapacitated — why bother shooting the lock out when you have time to find another, quieter way to break in? He's blind, not deaf. Even then, he seems to only wait a few minutes after the (failed) chloroform bomb to start being loud, even though he had already seen the Blind Man awake and alert.
  • Tragic Villain: The Blind Man was apparently a war hero before the loss of his daughter drove him insane.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: Most trailers include the Blind Man killing Money, as the plot wouldn't work if we didn't know that the former is a real threat. The theatrical trailer also had a blink-and-you'll-miss-it shot of Cindy gagged and restrained, hinting that there might be more going on than a man protecting his house.
  • Underestimating Badassery: The teenagers thinking that breaking into a blind man's house would be a simple task.
  • The Unseen: Alex's father who works for the alarm company, seen only in a picture.
  • Villainous Underdog: While the Blind Man - being Stephen Lang - is a menacing villain, one can't deny the fact he is completely blind, up against three burglars several decades younger than him, one of them armed with a pistol.
  • Would Hit a Girl: The Blind Man is just as vicious towards Rocky as he is to Alex or Money.

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