Don't Breathe 2
17 Aug 2021
Fede Alvarez, Rodo Sayagues
Stephen Lang, Brendan Sexton III, Madelyn Grace
2016’s Don’t Breathe was one of the most acclaimed horror films in recent memory. It made $157.8 million from a $9.9 million budget. A sequel was commissioned, even if there was no logical way to continue the story.
Eight years after the events of the first film The Blind Man (Stephen Lang) had been looking after Phoenix (Madelyn Grace) like she was his own daughter. He trains Phoenix in survival skills but keeps her away from other children. Their peace is shattered when The Blind Man gets attacked by home invaders, again.
Don’t Breathe was a shocking film. It had a twist where The Blind Man was holding a pregnant woman captive and tried to impregnate Jane Levy’s character. So, the filmmakers took the bizarre decision to turn The Blind Man into a hero, or at least an anti-hero. It’s hard for a character to come from being a rapist. Yet the filmmakers want the audience to route for him.
Don’t Breathe 2 doesn’t have much connection to the original film. No plot points were continued and The Blind Man was the only returning character. So, someone going into Don’t Breathe 2 blind (no pun intended) could accept the film as being about a blind veteran having to use his skills to protect his daughter. New audience members wouldn’t have to deal with the baggage of the first film.
Don’t Breathe 2 was less a horror film, it was more like a Taken film. The bad guys were really determined to kidnap Phoenix and The Blind Man had to use his special set of skills to defend her. Phoenix even hides under her bed like Kim did when she first arrived in Paris. By the third act The Blind Man was brandishing a machete and going round like he was Rambo or John Wick.
From a gory, exploitation standpoint Don’t Breathe 2 does have certain appeal. It was a really violent film – it has earned an 18 rating in the UK because of this. Don’t Breathe 2 had some brutal scenes with people’s heads getting smashed with a hammer, people getting stabbed with gardening tools and one man having his nose and mouth glued shut. The dark lighting and the urban decay did give Don’t Breathe 2 a gritty and grizzly feel.
Rodo Sayagues, the writer and producer of the previous film moves into the director’s chair for the sequel. He was able to craft some effective sequences. One of the best was when Phoenix was trying to hide from the bad guys and the camera moves in one long movement. There was tension when Phoenix was locked in a metal box filling with water and live cable hanging above it. The bad guys’ lair was really creepy because it was an abandoned hotel filled with drug addicts.
Don’t Breathe 2’s biggest failing was the screenplay. It was already stretching plausibility with The Blind Man’s home getting attacked a second time. But the film has to come up with a number of coincidences and contrivances to justify the plot. The thieves in Don’t Breathe had a simple goal, rob The Blind Man so they can leave Detroit. The home invaders in this film goals related to Phoenix’s true identity and organ trafficking. It was so ridiculous that it resulted in laugher. Hardly a good sign for a film that’s meant to instil terror. You could play a drinking game on the number of Phoenix falls unconscious in this film.
Don’t Breathe 2 was a sequel that had no reason to exist. It required audiences to forget the previous film so they could accept The Blind Man as a hero