DON’T BREATHE has proven to be yet another hit for the horror genre–and with good reason. The film has now topped the box office two weekends in a row. It’s tense, has a great villain, and shows us some things that I can honestly say I haven’t seen before.
That being said, it turns out the movie (at least in part) was influenced by one of the most famous horror stories of all time.
Director and co-writer Fede Alvarez recently took part in a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) Where he was asked about his inspiration for the character of The Blind Man. Here’s what he had to say:
“[It] came from Allan Poe’s The Tell-Tale heart I think. There’s a moment in that story that’s very similar to the scene where Money enters the Blind Man’s room, that froze my blood when I read it for the first time.”
Having just caught DON’T BREATHE last night, but not having read The Tell-Tale Heart in who knows how many years, I was intrigued enough to venture over to the bookshelf and revisit the story which is less than six pages long.
Really, most of its duration is the telling of the scene in question, but I think the following excerpt captures the moment Alvarez was likely referring to:
“Upon the eighth night I was more than usually cautious in opening the door. A watch’s minute hand moves more slowly than did mine. Never before that night had I felt the extent of my own powers–of my sagacity. I could scarcely contain my feelings of triumph. To think that I was, opening the door, little by little, and he not even to dream of my secret deeds or thoughts. I fairly chuckled at the idea; and perhaps he heard me; for he moved on the bed suddenly, as if startled. Now you may think that I drew back–but no. His room was as black as pitch with the thick darkness (for the shutters were close fastened, through fear of robbers), and so I knew that he could not see the opening of the door, and I kept pushing it on steadily, steadily.
I had my head in, and was about to open the lantern, when my thumb slipped upon the tin fastening, and the old man sprang up in the bed, crying out–“Who’s there?”
I kept quite still and said nothing. For a whole hour I did not move a muscle, and in the meantime I did not hear him lie down. He was still sitting up in the bed listening;–just as I have done, night after night, hearkening to the death watches in the wall.”
For many of us, Poe was our first introduction to horror literature (I remember ordering a collection of his works from a Scholastic newsletter in elementary school). While DON’T BREATHE is certainly just one of countless examples, It’s pretty cool to see how Poe’s legendary work continues to influence those working in the genre today.
The Tell-Tale Heart was first published in 1843.