This is Alvarez's first film in three years since his violent and solid remake of Evil Dead, and it is with this sophomoric debut that solidifies the genre filmmaker as someone with obvious talent. Inspirations are drawn from the best - Hitchcock, Fincher, and Wait Until Dark are a few - but Alvarez provides his own unique vision that truly makes the film his own. Like the masters before him, Don't Breathe is purely cinematic, relying less on dialogue and more on visual storytelling and sound to drive the film. The cinematography is amazing as well as the creative sound design, so much so they are characters within the film themselves.
The cast, while small, is great too, including Jane Levy, who can pretty much be titled this generation's scream queen after this and Evil Dead. Dylan Minnette is good in his role as well, providing enough sympathy for his character. Both young actors are put through hell, and their physical performances sell their tumultuous ordeal convincingly. However, it is Stephen Lang who is the film's shining beacon. As the antagonist, Lang is instantly memorable and frightening, an intimidating force that permeates throughout the film even in scenes without his presence.
If there's one gripe about the film, there's a plot twist that doesn't quite work, but that itself is a minor complaint compared to the many things the film gets right and does so well. I won't say more. Don't Breathe is a technical achievement, the rare studio film that actually pushes what film can do as a medium. However, like with Green Room, try not to get caught up in the hype, even with my glowing review. Set your expectations appropriately, and remember to avoid watching the trailer.