Movie Name: Don’t Breathe 2
If the loss of a child had made Norman Nordstrom, brilliantly essayed by Stephen Lang, an atheist in the 2016 horror-thriller Don’t Breathe, raising another one makes him teach “God is fair” in its sequel. This is a lesson the blind war veteran gives Phoenix, played by Madelyn Grace, who is introduced as his daughter in the beginning of Don’t Breathe 2. While the first film of the home-invasion franchise was unabashedly brutal, the sequel tries to infuse drama – without detailing – into the deadly mix.
Don’t Breathe 2 opens to a young girl emerging out of a burning house and passing out on the road. Eight years after the fatal fire, we meet her as Phoenix. She is being trained in fighting and survival skills by our anti-hero Norman. He is overprotective, she is rebellious. A set of intruders with military background led by Raylan (Brendan Sexton III) eventually test the father-daughter relationship. However, you don’t quite feel for Norman as he puts his life on the line to save Phoenix. Their bond isn’t quite established before the cat-and-mouse chase begins.
While Don’t Breathe followed a group of teenagers trying to steal a seemingly harmless blind guy’s small fortune and landing in a nightmarish territory, the sequel gets skilled intruders going after the tween girl Phoenix. None of the invaders know how intimately Norman is familiar with his house and how he can turn into a killing machine with the help of his heightened senses. This leads to high-octane action, much gore and intense bloody showdowns in both the films.
Don’t Breathe 2 is directed by Rodo Sayagues, who co-wrote the script of both films with Fede Alvarez, director of the first film. In the sequel, the intruders want to get to Phoenix anyhow to fulfill an agenda. The Blind Man is ready to protect her at any cost. The choreography and camera work are as strategic as effective here. They portray the desperation of the characters in their fight for survival. The sound effects swing between silence and dramatic score to increase the thrill.
Stephen Lang as the Blind Man is menacingly evil and burdened with his sins at the same time. The 69-year-old actor has a formidable screen presence, which comes out best in combat scenes. Even though Lang gets some avoidable dialogues, he makes it work in his deep-set voice. Madelyn Grace moves swiftly as Phoenix and emotes her complicated emotions through her facial expressions. After all, the little girl is caught between two sets of bad guys, who want to possess her for their own agendas. The rest of the cast is believable in their villainous roles.
Don’t Breathe was a cleverly-scripted, crafted and acted film which turned out to be a sleeper hit. Its highly-anticipated sequel Don’t Breathe 2 seems to have succumbed to the pressure of living up to the unforgettable first outing. After all, we were fascinated by the Blind Man having superhuman strength and endurance, even if it came with a flawed sense of justice, questionable humanity and twisted morality. If there is still any air left for the Don’t Breathe franchise, we sure hope the next one serves the ingenious package on par with the first film on screen. And oh the screen, and the theatrical experience of a horror thriller…that’s a sure-shot saving grace of Don’t Breathe 2.
Don’t Breathe 2 released in theatres in India on September 17.