DON’T BREATHE 2 Review–Just As Twisted As the Original with More Brutality & Deeper Subtext
Starring Stephen Lang, Brendan Sexton III, and Madelyn Grace
Written by Fede Alvarez and Rodo Sayagues
Directed by Rodo Sayagues
The sequel to 2016’s Don’t Breathe is just as twisted as the original with even more brutality and complex subtext. While it may lack some of the charms of the first Don’t Breathe, Part 2 is a taut and suspenseful thrill ride that never slows. Rather, it builds constantly and consistently through a shocking third act and satisfying conclusion.
A blind veteran must use his military training to save a young orphan from a group of kidnappers.
While Madelyn Grace is an awesome new addition as Phoenix, horror fans like me will miss Jane Levy, who played complicated protagonist Rocky in 2016’s Don’t Breathe. For starters, that film ended with a stinger that implied Stephen Lang’s “Blind Man” was looking for payback, a set-up that was completely abandoned. More importantly, Levy played a character that audience members could relate to–something that is definitely lacking in Don’t Breathe 2. While it isn’t required that a film offers us someone whose shoes we can walk in, it certainly helps to establish an emotional connection.
This isn’t to imply Don’t Breathe 2 is without emotional hooks. The previously mentioned Phoenix tugs our heartstrings as an unhappy child living a cloistered existence. We feel for her immensely as both a troubled/rebellious tween and an endangered young woman. Throughout the bulk of the film, her relationship with Lang’s Blind Man is uncertain. Knowing that character’s history makes us suspicious of his motives, but a new batch of home invaders pose even more dangerous prospects for young Phoenix.
Bad guys, on the other hand: The film is stuffed full of them. I’m talking despicable, violent, heartless characters who make for excellent victims of the Blind Man’s fury. Stephen Lang portrays a near-indestructible warrior, one hardly hindered by his lack of vision. Of course, the fact that we can’t fully root for him lessens the impact of these violent encounters. While we don’t want poor Phoenix to fall into the hands of ruthless abductors, we can’t help but feel that she’d be better off with, you know, “normal” parents.
Which brings us to the most complicated aspect of Don’t Breathe 2: Should the Blind Man be considered a hero or a villain? The answer to both questions is “Yes”. A person with a good heart can still commit atrocities just like a criminal can act out of selflessness if he/she chooses. But Fede Alvarez and Rodo Sayagues have been clear about the fact that they never intended to transform Lang’s character into a hero. Rather, they intended to present a character who can’t easily be analyzed or summarized. Ultimately, those who see Don’t Breathe 2 will see a character who exists simultaneously in several places on a moral spectrum.
Never forget that Don’t Breathe 2 is a summer blockbuster, meaning we get plenty of fights, action, and blood! While there isn’t a scene that matches the dread-inducing turkey baster scene of the original Don’t Breathe, the film does build to a climax of nauseating intensity. And while the gore isn’t necessarily over the top, the violence is always extreme enough to take your breath away.
If you liked the first Don’t Breathe, you’ll enjoy the sequel as well. Your previous attachment to Jane Levy’s Rocky may or may not hinder your emotional connection to the film. Still, it’s a worthy sequel and a harrowing character study of the Blind Man, a character we can both condemn and commend.
Don’t Breathe 2 arrives in US theaters tomorrow, August 13th.
Don’t Breathe 2 is a harrowing character study and a bloody good time. Fans of the original will love plumbing the depth of the Blind Man’s dark soul while rooting for young Phoenix (Madelyn Grace) to become her own hero.