Don't Breathe

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Don't Breathe Movie Poster Image
Brilliantly designed thriller weakened by heavy violence.
  • R
  • 2016
  • 88 minutes
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 14 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 22 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The movie more or less condones desperate measures, including theft and violence, to overcome a desperate situation. (Some characters are punished, some aren't.)

Positive Role Models & Representations

The protagonists are thieves who are capable of violence, while the "victim" is a violent sociopath. In other words? No role models here.

Violence

Women who are held hostage and abused are artificially inseminated against their will. Guns and shooting; spurts of blood, characters killed. Characters fall from heights. Painful injuries. Punching, pummeling, bashing heads and bodies (sometimes with hammer). Cuts and bruises. References to child abuse (girl locked in trunk of car). Nazi swastika shown. Vicious dog. Jump scares.

Sex

Reference to oral sex, miming oral sex with hand, mouth, and tongue. Women artificially inseminated. A character removes her top, revealing her bra.

Language

Frequent uses of "f--k" and "bitch," as well as "p---y," "ass," and "hell."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters frequently smoke cigarettes. An adult character appears drunk, asks for more alcohol.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Don't Breathe is an intense, gripping thriller set almost entirely in one house as a group of desperate thieves tries to steal a fortune from an elderly blind man. Frequent violence includes borderline torture and abuse. Women are held hostage and tormented; one is artificially inseminated against her will, and an attempt is made to inseminate the other. Guns are fired many times, with characters either wounded or killed. Blood splatters are shown. There's also fighting, punching, pummeling, and beating with blunt objects. Characters fall from heights and are injured. There's a reference to oral sex (using mouth, hands, and tongue to mime the action) and some partial undressing. Language is strong, with many uses of "f--k" and "bitch." Characters smoke a lot, and one character appears drunk (and is made to look bad as a result).

User Reviews

Adult Written bySarah S. September 6, 2016

WARNING FOR ANYONE WHO WANTS TO SEE THIS MOVIE!!!!

I recently went to go see don't breathe, I was excited! But halfway through the movie I lost interest the movie contained nothing but baby jump scares, the... Continue reading
Parent Written bychuggaconroyj August 27, 2016

Too Over The Top

This movie has 3 main problems Violence: ok this movie was real violent at some points Death 1. Money he gets shot in the face and it shows his jaw busting out... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byTornadosplash44 October 5, 2016

Don't Breathe while watching this!!!!!!!

Honestly, one of the best horror/thriller movies I've seen all year! It had great acting, great storyline, plus several plot twists too! The film does cont... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byFilmlovingcritic September 9, 2016

A highly intense thriller that entertains

Don't Breathe from the looks of it, is a horror movie, but it actually really isn't, it's a thriller that actually could be a horror movie. It... Continue reading

What's the story?

In DON'T BREATHE, three down-and-out, desperate Detroit dwellers -- social outcast "Money" (Daniel Zovatto), his girlfriend, Rocky (Jane Levy); and clean-cut, worrying Alex (Dylan Minnette) -- have a scheme. They rob houses using keys and codes stolen from Alex's father's job at a security company. When they learn about an elderly, blind war veteran (Stephen Lang) who keeps several hundred thousand dollars in his house, they figure it can be their "one last final score." Rocky wants to get her young daughter out of town and away from her abusive mother, while Alex has unrequited feelings for Rocky and wants to join her. Unfortunately, their "simple" plan turns nasty when the old man turns out to be more than a meek victim.

Is it any good?

The first three-quarters of this simple, intense thriller are something close to masterful -- and then it goes a little too over the top, with an outlandish reveal and elements of torture and gore. Director Fede Alvarez (the 2013 Evil Dead remake), starts Don't Breathe with nary a misstep, using the desolate Detroit locations to strong effect and establishing the space of the veteran's house clearly and concisely, never resorting to shaky-cam.

Plus, the crisp sound design highlights every creak and crack of the house, without an overuse of music. Character development is slight, but at least Rocky is sympathetic, with abuse in her past and a desire to protect her daughter. And for a long time, all of this is brilliantly sustained, suggesting a trust in the audience -- but then the movie betrays that trust by unleashing a ridiculous back story for the victim, as well as unnecessarily heightened violence. A bit more thought could have made this a suspense classic, but at least it's nearly there.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Don't Breathe's violence. Is all of it necessary to the story? What's the impact of media violence on kids?

  • How much did you care about the main characters, given that they're thieves and robbers? Does the movie generate sympathy for them? How?

  • What are the relationships like between the main characters and their parents (Rocky and her mother, and Alex and his father)? How are these relationships reflected in the characters' behavior?

  • How does smoking affect the characters? Does it make them seem cool? Dangerous? Desperate?

Movie details

For kids who love scares

Our editors recommend

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate