This sequel is too blind to see the misfires.
The following is a spoiler alert, so I suggest you cover the next paragraph if you haven’t seen the original “Don’t Breathe,” but I must remind you about why I enjoyed that film.
Back in 2016, Stephen Lang was brilliant as a blind army vet named Norman Nordstrom, who fights off home invaders, while impregnating the girl who killed his daughter in a car accident. And it ended with a plot twist of him surviving a fall, not that he could be able to track down his leaving victim with his condition anyway.
The role for him was iconic in the ways it complicated us on who the real villain is: the Blind Man or the home invaders. He was labeled the main antagonist in that film and now 5 years later, in “Don’t Breathe 2,” he’s labeled an anti-hero. Unfortunately, as committed as Lang is to the role, the sequel feels derivative and doesn’t make sense.
For one thing, the story takes place 8 years after a little girl falls down to the streets. The summery suggests that in the present, she’s 11-year-old, but in the past, she looks older than a 3-year-old. That little girl is named Phoenix (newcomer Madelyn Grace) by her adoptive father Norman, who homeschools her to protect her the way he should have protected his real daughter.
The intruders, this time, are organ traffickers, whose leader Raylan (Brendan Sexton III) plans to kidnap the girl and telling her he’s her real father. But you can already tell he’s a lousy father. Good fathers don’t live in crack houses with a bunch of guys giving dark expressions on their faces. And I know there are those who want to see this sequel because of how good the first film was, so I won’t spoil it for you. But I can promise you this: Raylan earns the Father of the Year award. NOT! So, it’s the Blind Man to the rescue.
Rodo Sayagues, who co-wrote and produced with Fred Alvarez, takes over the director’s chair for him, while the latter still writes and produces. “Don’t Breathe 2” only works when the Blind Man handles his victims, and how Lang uses his tone and consistency in his reprisal. For example, I admire how he lies in a flooded basement, waiting for the bad guys to make tiny waves, so he can shoot them. And being an uncle to two dogs (my sister’s), I like how his character shows respect for them, and doesn’t leave them to die, unlike Raylan (another bad parenting Razzie for him).
But “Don’t Breathe 2” lacks the originality and narrative of the 2016 feature, and it just feels confusing and random. I’ve already asked about the time and age with the little girl, but the bad guys are too conspicuous for me to be appalled, especially since the trailers show the leader saying the Blind Man was the bad guy. He admits he’s a bad guy to the girl later in the film, but it just doesn’t really settle. Was this sequel supposed to be a personality check for him or some kind of an attempt to make us like this character?
I can’t decide if I was blinded by the film’s attempts or if the film was too blind to see its flaws. Either way, the original was smart and thrilling, while this sequel is dumb and confusing.