One of the most frustrating things about being a horror film fan is that I find that for every masterpiece I watch I probably sit through ten below-average films. Even more frustrating is the fact that a lot of those below-average films will be when a studio tries to cash in on the fact that fans of the genre will always rush out to see the latest offering.
I found that this is certainly the case with Don’t Breathe 2. This is one of those horror films that doesn’t need to exist, certainly not in the way that we see it here. The original Don’t Breathe film was a real masterclass in horror. It introduced us to an amazing new horror villain in the form of Norman Nordstrom aka The Blind Man (Stephen Lang – Avatar) as well as being original and creative in its approach. To top all that off it also tested its audience with a reveal that showed that sometimes who we depict as a hero is in fact more vile and abhorrently evil than the supposed villains.
When I first heard that there was going to be a second film in this franchise I was massively excited. The first film I felt was a masterpiece and it appeared by its finale that there was plenty more to tell with the story at hand. I deliberately avoided watching the trailer for Don’t Breathe 2 because I didn’t want any spoilers before I watched the film, so imagine my surprise yesterday when I walked into the cinema and started to watch a film that had no link to the first film other than the character of The Blind Man himself.
The sequel is set some years after the original. Now The Blind Man lives a whole new life in a home in the middle of nowhere with Shadow his trained guard dog Rottweiler and a young girl, named Phoenix (Madelyn Grace – The Orville), whom he calls his daughter. Their only interaction with the outside world is thoroughly the weekly pick-ups from local nursery-woman Hernandez (Stephanie Arcila – Here And Now).
However, all their insulated lives come under threat when a group of men led by Raylan (Brendan Sexton III – Empire Records) invades the home in a bid to try and find Phoenix and reveal the truth about her life.
No matter what first-time director Rodo Sayagues Don’t Breath 2 is a non-event. With no creative link to the first film, even the most hardened fan of the series is going to find this a disappointing watch. I’ll admit that for me the only thing that kept my interest in the film was that I wanted to see what happened to Phoenix as a character and to see what creative death sequences that Saygues and Fede Alvarez (Evil Dead) have created for the film.
I think the hardest thing for me watching this film was trying to see The Blind Man as a hero after what was exposed about him in the first film. For the most this film feels like an excuse for the studio to try and re-invent him as a hero in a bid to keep the franchise going for a few years, why else would they consider the idea of having a revealed rapist and murderer as a guardian for a young defenseless girl as something feasible to a cinema audience.
The only thing that really saves this film is the performances of Lang and Grace. Madelyn Grace does a great job portraying a young girl that is lost in a world where she feels like she is a prisoner and more importantly she manages to make the audience feel sorry for her character and want her to succeed. Likewise, Lang does what he can to make an evil character likable in a sense and despite my feelings towards his character I do have to admit that he does do a pretty good job depicting a blind man in a fight for his life.
If you are a fan of the first film I would almost recommend that you don’t see the sequel. It is only linked to the first film by Lang’s character and it lacks the creativity that made the first film so special.