Don't Breathe 2 Review: In spite of a badass Stephen Lang, don't hold your breath for entertainment

Updated on Sep 17, 2021 11:25 PM IST  |  142.3K
Don't Breathe 2 releases in India on September 17
Stephen Lang reprises his role as Norman Nordstrom aka The Blind Man in Don't Breathe 2.

Don't Breathe

Don't Breathe Cast: Stephen Lang, Brendan Sexton III, Madelyn Grace, Fiona O'Shaughnessy

Don't Breathe Director: Rodo Sayagues

Don't Breathe Stars: 2.5/5


"Is God bad?"; 11-year-old Phoenix (Madelyn Grace) asks her gruff, aged and blind father, Norman (Stephen Lang). "God is fair," comes a reply. I would have to disagree because Don't Breathe 2 made me want to come up for air and not in the "fair" sense. In spite of how menacingly evil The Blind Man continues to be, a tacky narrative and a lack of character development suck the fun out of this horror-thriller sequel snoozefest.

Plenty of discussions can be had about what made the original a sleeper smash success and most of it can be attributed to Stephen's "I'm back" exceptional performance. It's also the claustrophobic, no holds barred "home invasion" vibes, which was masterfully crafted for its target audience. Don't Breathe demanded a sequel but in this case, it came a little too late. This time, too much heart is forcibly infused into a script that is spearheaded by the villain vs. villain agenda. Norman is a bad man, period. In cinema, you're drawn more to what makes a bad person bad. However, in the sequel, there isn't a clear perspective when it comes to moral ambiguity. You don't feel bad whenever Norman is beaten within an inch of his life!


To give you some context, eight years after the first film, Norman now lives with "his" daughter, Phoenix, limiting her freedom while indulging her in survival tactics. In a foreshadowing theme, these surviving skills come in handy when a bunch of goons attempt to kidnap her with Norman going all Die Hard on them. Leading the nefarious gang is leader Raylan (Brendan Sexton III), who is as caricaturish of an antagonist as it gets. However, the reason behind the kidnapping leads to a twisted turn of events with a big reveal about Phoenix and who she really is. You're given the answer to; How did Phoenix come into Norman's possession? And why is Raylan after her?

As I mentioned before, Stephen hasn't missed a beat as The Blind Man, who is charmingly evil. With minimal dialogues, it's Stephen's physical acting that truly is remarkable to watch on screen. You're left with a sadistic pleasure when he viciously kills one after another. However, you don't feel for Norman's impulsive, vulnerable actions in trying to save Phoenix because enough time wasn't dedicated to establishing the father-daughter duo's relationship. In fact, Stephen has more chemistry with the two dogs in the movie, who're basically a saving grace, than with Madelyn. That's not to say that Madelyn didn't do an earnest job, which she very well did. However, the overbaked script messes it up for her, leaving no room for character growth.


Brendan as Raylan is excruciatingly squirmish to look at on-screen while Fiona O'Shaughnessy as Raylan's wife Josephine is as stereotypical as you'd expect from such flicks. Rodo, who was a co-writer in Don't Breathe, takes the reign from Fede Álvarez (who is a co-writer in Don't Breathe 2) and unfortunately, fails to capitalise on what made the first instalment work. The script almost feels like a 'wing it' situation where the story was written simultaneously as it was being filmed. Let's not even start with the OTT dialogues which are so '80s! At one point, the very words are uttered: "Don't breathe." *gasps*

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I will admit that a few action sequences were pretty "edge-of-the-seat" levels of entertaining, especially when Phoenix first attempts to escape from the claws of Raylan's goons. Even the climax packs a punch but instead of peaking the gruesome level, the script tries to layer it with unwarranted emotions. Pedro Luque's cinematography and Jan Kovac's editing is exhausting, with the flashing lights and smoke fillers while Roque Baños' score isn't compelling enough. However, David Warren's production design, from the dungy horror houses to impeccably transforming Serbia into Detroit was impressive.

In finality, I'd say, "Save your breath," and give this expired sequel a miss!




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