A sequel to the surprise hit “Don’t Breathe” should only come if director and writer Fede Alvarez had a good idea for the content. But in Hollywood, as we all know, the clock ticks differently. And so come along DON’T BREATHE 2 one of the most unnecessary sequels in recent genre history is now in cinemas. We reveal more about this in our review.
OT: Don’t Breathe 2 (USA/SRB 2021)
The plot summary
Seven years after breaking into the house of the blind Norman Nordstrom (Stephen Lang) and not least the discovery of his dark secret hidden in the basement of the property, the former war veteran lives alone and completely withdrawn in Detroit. But one day his dark past catches up with him when, after a house fire, he brings the injured Phoenix (Madelyn Grace) into his home and then trains her to be a fighter. For Norman, she is a kind of surrogate daughter after the death of his biological daughter broke him early in his life and drove him to horrific acts. In order to protect Phoenix from the influences of the outside world, Norman hardly lets her step outside the door. But one night the danger suddenly appears in the House, because once again burglars are targeting the man and this time also Phoenix. But as expected, both know how to defend themselves…
Production costs of almost ten million US dollars, gross receipts of around 160 million: these are numbers that studio bosses want to read as a result of a film release. And Fede Alvarez’ (“Conspiracy”) The equally creative and surprising “A group of burglars take on a blind man” horror film “Don’t Breathe” was able to achieve these numbers in 2016. In this respect, the director and screenwriter’s announcement that he would only make a sequel if he found the right, story-worthy material for it should be treated with caution right from the start. The result: “Don’t Breathe 2”, financed with a budget of 15 million dollars instead of just ten million dollars, was still created with the help of Alvarez; Together with his co-author Rodo Sayagues for part one (“Evil Dead”) He wrote the script, which Sayagues was now able to film single-handedly as his directorial debut. But the matter of “material worth telling” has given way to the economic idea behind the project in favor of a quick publication. What’s more: Rarely has the script for a film sequel seemed so twisted in terms of content in order to somehow create a connection to the first part. This means that “Don’t Breathe 2” would be quite solid as an action thriller with horror elements in its own right, but as a “Don’t Breathe” sequel it would be a real disaster.
The blind Norman Nordstrom (Stephen Lang) defends his house and foster daughter against the burglars (here: Adam Young).
In the following we assume knowledge of the final twist of the first “Don’t Breathe” film. So if you out there haven’t seen it yet, don’t read on until you have. Because we just have to go with it Spoilers work on the predecessor in order to explain the idiocy behind the sequel in more detail. “Don’t Breathe” began as a horror thriller in which a blind old man is harassed by a group of burglars who had no idea that he was able to defend himself damn well despite his disability. So the film became a heavily staged game of cat and mouse, particularly with the acoustics (which, because it adhered to certain logical limits, worked much better than “A Quiet Place” which used similar means!) – with a blatant one Twist! Because in the last third it emerged: This supposedly helpless man did not have a corpse, but he did hide a kidnapped woman in the basement, whom he planned to impregnate against her will in the hope of numbing his pain after the death of his daughter. “to breed” a new one. The victim suddenly became a mentally ill perpetrator – and the creatives in “Don’t Breathe 2” now turn him into a kind of action hero, who this time can even adorn the film poster alone. A morally questionable decision, but one that also has a certain potential. Ultimately, Norman Nordstrom, who is no longer nameless this time, becomes the victim of a gang of burglars again and also has to protect a young girl who he has taken care of.
“The victim in ‘Don’t Breathe’ suddenly became a mentally ill perpetrator – and the creatives in ‘Don’t Breathe 2’ now turn him into a kind of action hero, who this time can even adorn the film poster alone. A morally questionable decision.”
In short: the premise of “Don’t Breathe 2” is, to put it diplomatically, bizarre. And even though the film focuses on Norman’s foster daughter Phoenix and her training as a fighter in the very first scene (Laurie Strode from 2018’s “Halloween” would be proud of the girl!), “Don’t Breathe 2” remains at the end a film about Norman Nordstrode. Stephen Lang (“Enemies – Hostiles”) undoubtedly embodies this again with an engaging presence and physicality, whose blindness you can buy at any time. And since we as viewers know from the start what this man is capable of, the approach to the character is immediately completely different. The film works even worse overall. Because although Norman’s motivation is no longer to protect his cellar secret, but rather a person who means a lot to him, given what happened in part one, it is almost impossible to keep your fingers crossed for him as a popular figure. That would be more like that of newcomer Madelyn Grace (“Grey’s Anatomy”) self-confidently embodied Phoenix. But due to the shift in focus from her to Norman, we hardly learn anything about her character, but all the more about her background, which Rodo Sayagues once again deciphers in a twist-like manner. The difference is that the out-of-the-box resolution seems much more contrived than the entire plot’s efforts to establish a connection to the events from part one and is made even more difficult by the lack of any sympathetic figures.
Stephen Lang also dominates “Don’t Breathe 2.”
Without considering the existence of a sequel to “Don’t Breathe 2”, the fight between evil and even more evil can certainly develop its charm. And even if Rodo Sayagues’ directing skills don’t (yet) come close to those of Fede Alvarez, the film is a joy to see in parts. Although some of the strongest scenes have already been used in the trailer – it doesn’t blow your mind as much as if you were sitting in the cinema completely clueless. Nevertheless, he also provides insights into some of the finesses that Sayagues comes up with. In particular his games with water, the illustration of Norman’s perception in the fight with the opponents who can all see and the way in which the cameraman Pedro Luque, who returns after part one (“Antebellum”) Once again, the film manages to capture the oppressive atmosphere in the house, which is actually so spacious, indicating that Sayagues has a promising future ahead of him as a director. That’s why it’s so unfortunate that “Don’t Breathe 2”, unlike its predecessor, is not takes place exclusively in Norman’s estate and outsources the particularly outrageous moments; We don’t want to reveal where to at this point. However, the horror thriller, which is released in this country for ages 18 and up, scores with some particularly hard points of violence, for which hammers and superglue are misused, among other things – but above all we remember a scene that has to do with a severed arm and, thanks to a great (haptic) The effect hurts a lot just from watching.
“Even if Rodo Sayagues’ directing skills don’t (yet) come close to those of Fede Alvarez, the film is a joy to see in parts.”
While “Don’t Breathe” was primarily a film of quiet tones, in which the focus was less on the brutal confrontation and more on the hiding and circling of the “cat and mouse”, this time Norman goes much more on the offensive. It’s surprising that the jump scare rate here is once again limited. Not least because “Don’t Breathe 2” is more of an action-revenge thriller than a horror film. But above all, one that would not have been needed in this form – or at most as a stand-alone genre contribution that could have exploited the excessive presence of Stephen Lang even without the connections to “Don’t Breathe”.
Conclusion: “Don’t Breathe 2” is a film that is massively damaged by its existence as a sequel. The character of Norman Nordstrom, who is undoubtedly played outstandingly by Stephen Lang, is not suitable for an action hero, so it is difficult to concentrate on the fact that the film is quite attractive in terms of production. Instead, you spend an hour and a half looking for why.
“Don’t Breathe 2” can be seen in USA cinemas from September 9, 2021.