Like any good fright, Don’t Breathe came from out of nowhere.

The surprise smash, made for under $10 million, knocked Suicide Squad from the top spot at this weekend’s box office, proving that however much you hype a film, excrete precious studio money or jam-pack your picture full of stars, good old-fashioned story-telling and a novel idea will get you very far with audiences today.

Learning of a big score, three friends decide they’re going to break into a home in a near-abandoned Detroit neighbourhood. They’re not going to encounter much resistance; the house’s sole occupant is blind, and having lost his only child in a car accident, lives in solitude. Suffice to say, things don’t go as planned.

Don’t Breathe is everything horror fans love about the genre. A bottle-shocker with a highly unusual premise, the film’s title is largely indicative of some of its characters’ tensest encounters; the film’s peculiar circumstances allowing for the types of chilling tension and frightful predicaments hitherto unseen. Too containing a style of scenario that won’t be unfamiliar to Doctor Who fans and Peter Capaldi’s first full outing as the time lord, similarly titled “Deep Breath”, Don’t Breathe takes the suspense-laden impasse to a whole new level of drama.

So much more than a good idea, Don’t Breathe is in every sense a monster-flick and haunted house horror, though barely recognisable as such. Upending the tired conventions of oft-seen horror schlock, Evil Dead director Fede Alvarez’s latest (co-produced by Sam Raimi) is very grounded in the frighteners we know and love, but something very different altogether – and for frustrated fans of the genre, a welcome development.

In an 88-minute film it’s a treat to see just how many clever twists and turns can be packed in, the latter half giving way to a mounting, escalating series of shocks that barely allow you time to recover from what came before. Maintaining the tension throughout its run, fans of classic horror and Halloween in particular will appreciate the allusions to the greats of decades past, icons of the genre to which Don’t Breathe holds a very dark candle.

Don’t Breathe is in cinemas now

On The Big Smoke