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Filled with 88 minutes of heart-pounding, edge-of-your-seat thrills, Fede Alvarez‘s “Don’t Breathe” puts a unique spin on the horror genre, placing three young burglars at the mercy of a blind war veteran.

The horror pic had a special screening at the Silent Movie Theatre on Sunday, bringing out stars Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto, and the blind man himself, Stephen Lang.

“I never conceived of him as a horror figure or villain,” Lang said. “I saw him as a guy who was close to the brink of despair and was fighting for his own form of survival. So when that world gets invaded I think he takes a stand.”

Lang said he found a connection with his character, who has been brutalized mentally and spiritually. “I wanted a chance to defend the character and be an advocate for the character and in so doing you can add depth to what might be perceived as a heinous villain,” he said.

With the flood of haunted house-themed, run-of-the-mill horror films, Alvarez wanted to create a movie that didn’t fit mainstream standards.

“It’s very scary when you work in the real world, when you’re not in the fantasy world with ghosts. Here, there’s an antagonist that has a real reason for doing what he does,” Alvarez said. “Villains are just evil. With this guy, in the first half of the movie you understand why he wants to get them.”

Movie-goers received oxygen canisters as they made their way in to help them brace for the suspense.

The film, set to bow in theaters on Aug. 26, premiered at South by Southwest.