How Don't Breathe Almost Ended And Why They Changed It

Don't Breathe

SPOILER ALERT: The following article contains major spoilers for Don't Breathe. If you have not yet seen the film, please save this page for later and click away to another one of our wonderful articles!

There are definitely some mixed emotions on hand at the end of director Fede Alvarez's Don't Breathe, but it is mostly a happy ending. It's true that Stephen Lang's The Blind Man is still left alive, but at least Jane Levy's Rocky does manage to escape and execute her plans to leave her terrible home life. It's a fitting ending that actually does a great job of setting up a sequel -- but it wasn't always going to be that way. In fact, before it was changed in early drafts, the film was originally going to have a horrifically dark ending that saw Rocky chained up in The Blind Man's basement and turned into his new surrogate.

Earlier this month, I had the tremendous pleasure of joining a small group of journalists sitting down with Fede Alvarez, screenwriter Rodo Sayagues and producer Sam Raimi during a special lunch promoting the upcoming Blu-ray and DVD release of Don't Breathe, and it was early in the conversation that we discussed the movie's ending. The screenwriter was asked specifically about the final moments, and Sayagues explained that he and Alvarez originally planned a much, much darker conclusion for the hit horror flick. Said the screenwriter,

The original script, it had a bleaker ending. She ended up in the cellar. In the original script actually there was a trap down in the floor, but we were like, 'Wait a second. We can't do Evil Dead and then a trap door. One in each movie.' We changed it to put a door in the wall. So the trap door she would walk by it and then a hand would come out and grab her leg and drag her in. By the time the police shows up, they never find her because that part of the cellar was more concealed. It's inside of the wall. It's actually under the next door's house - it's a tunnel that connected with the other house that's abandoned next door and that's the cellar he was using.

Pretty horrible, right? Rather than joining her daughter and leaving for California to start a better life, Rocky would instead suffer the same terrible fate of the girl who accidentally killed The Blind Man's daughter -- and presumably not ultimately survive the ordeal. Given how much we saw her go through in Don't Breathe, this would have been a rather devastating place to leave the story... and that's what led Fede Alvarez and Rodo Sayagues to change it.

While the filmmakers didn't mention exactly when it was that they decided to change the ending of Don't Breathe, they did explain why they did. It seems that they grew attached to Rcoky as a character, and simply felt that it wouldn't have been satisfying for the audience to see her trapped in the Blind Man's clutches. Said Sayagues,

Then we changed that. Originally he could hide her better. We felt, even in the original script and even the original cut, the first cut of the movie, she came across... she was more ambitious, she was manipulating. She was manipulating the rest of the characters more to get what she wanted. In the storytelling myth, she kind of deserved to win. It was really depressing. It was one of those, like, 'Oh, fuck, really? After all of this and then she ends up there?' She was pregnant and she was this ladybug... it was depressing.

Do you think that Fede Alvarez and Rodo Sayagues made the right call changing the end of Don't Breathe, or do you think the really hardcore depressing ending would have been fitting for the horror flick? Hit the comments section below with your thoughts, and pick up a copy of the summer 2016 hit film on Blu-ray and DVD on November 29th.

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.