Hollywood blockbuster directed by Uruguay’s Fede Alvarez

Fede Alvarez's horror film Don't Breathe became the toast of Hollywood, 6 years after a video he made depicting an alien attack on Montevideo went viral.
By Karen A Higgs
Don't Breathe - Film by Uruguayan director, Fede Alvarez
Last updated on September 11, 2016

Uruguayan film director Fede Alvarez shot to Hollywood fame this month when his new horror film Don’t Breathe became the US’s biggest grossing film over two weekends when it came out on August 26.

However few know that the Uruguayan was whisked to Hollywood back in 2009 just thirty days after a music video clip he had made in Montevideo went viral.

The video, called Ataque de Pánico made for rock band Snake, featured gigantic robot aliens marching on Montevideo and dramatic special effects as they blow away iconic buildings in the capital.

What was a simple rock video made for just 300 dollars became the talk of the internet.

If you’re coming to or have been to Montevideo, you’ve got to check it out.

The video opens with scenes of a child under the Santa Lucía bridge, some 15 miles outside of Montevideo coming in from Colonia. Buildings attacked include the Antel Telecommunications Tower (2m 05sec), the Legislative Palace where the national assembly meets (2m 11sec), Montevideo’s main street 18 de julio (2m 34sec), the Plaza de Independencia (2m 41sec), the building where the lovely old bookshop Mas Puro Verso is located (2m 45sec), Tres Cruces where the bus station is located (3m), the seat of the Municipality of Montevideo (3m 12sec) and the iconic Palacio Salvo (3m 17sec) – noooooooo!!!

Don’t Breathe – Made by Uruguayans

Don’t Breathe is only Alvarez‘ second major film. Taking almost 90 million dollars in the first few weeks, the film has been a huge sleeper >hit.

Though critics have called the film “the best American [my italics] horror film in twenty years”, it was written by Alvarez and another Uruguayan Rodo Sayagués. Alvarez’s long-time director of photography is also Uruguayan.

So, is there any hint that Don’t Breathe, a Hollywood-made film set in Detroit, is written and directed by Uruguayans?

Yes, says Uruguayan film critic Gonzalo Curbelo. He says that the plot takes place in Detroit, a former industrial giant but now broken and “almost Third World”. The heroine wants to leave for California at all cost, alleging that “everyone’s already left”. It’s impossible not to associate this with the ambitions of any aspiring artist in Uruguay, says Curbelo.

And, on a more obvious note. With a wink to three million Uruguayan compatriots, a distinctive thermos flask pops up in a cupboard in a scene of Don’t Breathe.

More on cinema and Uruguay

The Guru’Guay Guide recommends ten Uruguayan films you must watch before you come to Uruguay. Buy it in paperback or download it now.

The Guru recommends five films

Clever – a 2016 hit film made in Uruguay

Photo: Don’t Breathe website




4 Responses

  1. Many of us are proud of this two uruguayans success.
    I want to say that both helped as producers in films of our first horror movie maker, Mr. Ricardo Islas, who actually lives in Chicago.
    Mr. Islas has made indie horror movies with an almost inexistent budget and improving the quality up to the level of blockbusters.
    My wish is that Ricardo Islas would join Avarez prestige in honor of his restless effort and intelligent scripts that made us as proud as Mr. Alvarez did.

  2. Hola, I’ve just received my copy of The Guru’guay guide to Montevideo. Words cannot express how homesick I am. As a child I immigrated to Australia in the 70’s Now it’s time for one of my children to visit Uruguay for the first time & your guide to Montevideo is wonderful! So many customs so many memories that I’ve tried to pass on to them. Your guide is also proof to my kids that their mum is still very much “Uruguaya” Gracias!

    1. Dear Stella, I am so MOVED to read your comment. And delighted that you find the book so true to the Uruguay you have loved for so long, despite not being here. I guess that after so many years I am just a bit “uruguaya” myself 🙂 You have to come visit again! — Abrazo grande, Karen

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