Don't Breathe 2
Rodo Sayagues' Don't Breathe 2 is peculiar sequel, attempting to flip the script on Stephen Lang's Blind Man, only to end up in a similar spot. Don't Breathe 2 is a bloody and battered revenge flick that's mean-spirited and nasty from start-to-finish.
Don’t Breathe co-writer/director Fede Alvarez steps back and lets his co-writer Rodo Sayagues take the reins for the unexpected sequel, Don’t Breathe 2, which attempts to humanize Stephen Lang‘s character from the first film through bloodshed and dismemberment. Don’t Breathe 2 is a mean and nasty sequel that further dives into the slums and trash that Alvarez and Sayagues created in the first film, swapping out somewhat unlikable teenage leads for even trashier drug addicts, making for a one-note sequel that has more problems than not.
Phoenix (Madelyn Grace) escaped a house fire when she was just a little girl and all we know is that the Blind Man aka Norman Nordstrom (Stephen Lang) has “captured” her, but only this time is attempting to raise her as a daughter, instead of holding her against her will in a creepy basement, much like the first film.
In Don’t Breathe, Norman was the blind psychopath that kidnapped the woman that accidentally killed his daughter and nobody would’ve found out about his dirty little secret had a group of kids not attempted to rob him, only to find out that he’s an ex-Navy with an appetite for murder. Don’t Breathe played out like a cat-and-mouse game as the teenagers attempted to escape Norman, while he picked them off one-by-one.
Don’t Breathe 2 is so bizarre because it attempts to make Norman the “good guy”, depicting him as a stern father that understands that he’s strict and over-protective, but attempting to “loosen the chain” as he lets his “daughter” into town on occasion.
Eventually, his secret comes out and the film oddly enough plays it off like it was just a mistake and that he’s clearly a better man now. Ignore his kidnapping and murdering and raping and general twisted sense of morality, because hey, he kidnapped this girl too, but at least he’s trying to be a good father.
This morale dilemma plagues most of Rodo Sayagues‘ film, because it’s just so off-putting and non-sensical.
Sayagues and co-writer Alvarez attempt to push things into a better direction by eventually abandoning the whole Norman is “good” routine and instead shifts focus on characters that are even more detestable and disturbing, which almost makes us root for Norman at one point in the film.
At this point, Don’t Breathe 2 has more in common with something like Paul Walker‘s Running Scared than it does any sort of horror movie. The violence is stripped of any suspense and instead elevated to graphic and excessive, but almost done up with an evil grin or smile.
I never once felt terror, nor were there any jump scares this time around, which were aspects that made Alvarez’s original enjoyable, despite not living up to the likes of his Evil Dead reboot.
Don’t Breathe got by as a thinly-written horror film that was efficient enough in its pacing and structure to earn it a passable grade, whereas Don’t Breathe 2 sort of buckles under its own ludicrous plot, to the point of becoming a revenge flick and not so much a horror movie.
The last act plays out with more blood and action than anything in the first film and while I thought the practical effects were refreshing and impressive, I felt cheated by the lack of any real care given to the characters. The first film had a group of unlikable teens, but you still felt bad watching them get killed.
The sequel literally has zero redeemable characters (aside from the little girl) and at no point do you feel bad for the deaths that are happening and that becomes a big problem.
Stephen Lang grunts and groans his way through a bulk of the film, swapping out a mysterious (and creepy) psychopath for an old and frail-looking nut job that has his moments, but is mostly past his prime in this one.
Don’t Breathe 2 is the type of “why” sequel that I’ll never understand. There’s nothing about it that demands to be seen, yet I’m sure it could’ve been much worse if they simply rehashed the first film. I give credit to director Rodo Sayagues for giving the film a distinct look and for creating so many interesting sets that are dirty and dark and just oozing with filth and no-doubt some sort of smell, I’d imagine. I also respect the no nonsense kills that are gritty and gory and just unappetizing.
Don’t Breathe 2 is a nasty little sequel that gets points for bringing the kills, despite short-changing the horror for actual laughable dialog and scenario after scenario of complete disbelief.