Anytime someone randomly brings 2016’s Don’t Breathe in the conversation, I won’t hesitate to say that’s one of the best horror films the last decade had to offer. To me, director Fede Álvarez pulled off a tense thriller that had me stressed the entire time. Now just five years later, Don’t Breathe 2 is the sequel many didn’t know it was coming out where I’m sure it’s hard to comprehend its existence.
What’s the Story: Taking place years after the events of the first film, former Navy Seal veteran Norman Nordstorm (Stephen Lang) is trying to live a quiet life while raising a young girl named Phoenix (Madelyn Grace) after he adopted her after being rescued from a house fire. All goes well until some crooks attempt to break into his house to kidnap Phoenix, now Norman is forced to use skillful tactics to keep her safe.
Amidst the sequels to have come out this summer, there wasn’t much excitement for Don’t Breathe 2. Why? Because I didn’t feel like it warranted one, especially if this was going to give us a reason to see The Blind Man as some kind of antihero this time around as the primary focus. That being said, all I hope for writer-director Rodo Sayagues, co-writer of the original, is to make an impression on him as this is his first feature. And after it was over, every part of my body keeps asking why this was made when it comes across as a pointless follow-up.
There’s some credit to be found where they didn’t attempt to make this a carbon copy of the first as another home invasion-type storyline. It plays on the lengths one must go to protect those we hold dear, but can it make us fully invested with any of the characters? I didn’t think so. A couple of surprises here and there, but what this doesn’t provide are the genuine moments of suspense. Nothing about this had me on the edge of my seat or had the sense of claustrophobic feeling since the story didn’t have enough to keep it moving.
The only returning star to come back is none other than Stephen Lang as The Blind Man, and it’s no secret he pulls off a strong performance once again. This is a character where we aren’t going to forget the crimes he did in the past and would make him capable of taking care of his daughter under the circumstances. The concern walking in was thinking is Norman going from one of the best villains of 2016 to a good guy? Even I still had a hard time figuring that out while I was watching since I don’t recall his actions being brought up. Without one of his senses, you already know he’s an unstoppable force for anyone in his way. Although, the way the movie wants to make him redeemable doesn’t allow us to follow through.
While there isn’t much with the action sequences this time, I won’t fault anyone who thought these brutal techniques were well-executed where you don’t know one will survive. There was this pretty cool sequence where the intruders are breaking into the house searching for Phoenix and the camera doesn’t cut; that was surprisingly impressive. But with the intruders themselves, lead by Brendon Sexton III’s gang leader, these are the most generic crooks to come by in how dull they were. And once it’s revealed why they want to kidnap Phoenix, that’s when the second act falls and becomes ridiculous, leading to a final act that lost my attention.
And though it never bored me, these are characters not worth caring for, whether it’s Norman of finding any interest in the bad men. I thought Madelyn Grace as Phoenix did the best she could while partnering with Lang. Don’t Breathe 2 never got to a point where it left me excited for what’s to come next, with having a redemption arc that could’ve been better written for all I know. And even as a revenge thriller, it doesn’t reason reach its mark on a memorable level. So, this isn’t a strong recommendation since you’re definitely better off watching the first film since it gets the job done at having its tension, while this is a sequel I didn’t get why it happened.
Final Thoughts: Don’t Breathe 2 is nothing more than a sequel that didn’t need to be made. Stephen Lang gives another great performance, but the clever suspense of its predecessor is largely absent. As someone who loves the original, there wasn’t enough in here to be fully invested by.