GORE IN THE STORE
DON'T BREATHE 2 **
Directed by Rodo Sayagues.
Starring Stephen Lang, Madelyn Grace, Brendan Sexton III.
Horror, US, 98 minutes, certificate 18.
Released in the UK in cinemas August 13th by Sony.
As ruthlessly entertaining and slickly efficient as it was, DON’T BREATHE never really felt like a film that anyone was crying out for a sequel to. Particularly when the first film took a queasy turn that revealed the films antagonist, known only then as The Blind Man, was revealed to be kidnapping women and raping them to impregnate them. Now five years later we learn that The Blind Man is named Norman Nordstrom and in a storyline that is bound to raise some eyebrows is now raising a young girl named Phoenix. Thankfully how Phoenix came to be in Norman’s care is not due to his reprehensible actions from the first film but at the same time it is a failing on the films part that it totally dodges the serious issue raised in the previous film and avoids what could have been a challenging, critical look at how a villain has somehow been turned into a heroic father figure this time around.
What could have been a subversive look at how slasher villains become popular figures despite their horrendous actions is instead just another warmed up rehash of the first films most popular elements. Sadly Rodo Sayagues, replacing previous director Fede Alvares, feels more like the cinematic equivalent of a covers band, delivering a product that fails to match the original no matter how hard he tries. Norman finds his home under threat yet again from a small band of home invaders but instead of looking for money they are more interested in Phoenix herself. Raised by Norman to protect herself from such a threat, she nonetheless finds herself having to rely on her father figure’s savage taste in self defence against the thieves led by the sleazy Raylan.
At first things seem promising in a no-frills sort of way. The opportunity to see bad guys getting taken out violently by another, underestimated bad guy could have been an undemanding way to pass ninety minutes. But the shadow of The Blind Man’s actions from the first film still hangs heavy over this new entry no matter how sympathetically the always impressive Stephen Lang plays him. An impressive extended take following Phoenix from room to room, upstairs to downstairs is at least an impressive display of cinematographer Pedro Luque’s skills, as well as the smoke filled burnt amber colour scheme, he employs at the film’s finale in an abandoned swimming pool. Sadly, this is not enough to recommend the film to anyone but the first films most hardened fans.
As mentioned before Lang is as imposing as ever and Madlyn Grace manages to impress too as Phoenix with a plucky performance that never comes across as precocious or annoying. Despite this double act the film fails to even measure up as an entertaining or subversive exploitation flick thanks to its clumsy plotting, weak characters, and failure to examine its main figure and his actions. Despite its needless presence DON’T BREATHE 2 feels like a missed opportunity on most levels that seems destined to be favoured by completists only.