With 2013’s ‘Evil Dead’ and 2016’s ‘Don’t Breathe’, Fede Alvarez cemented his reputation as one to watch in the horror genre. With ‘Don’t Breathe 2’ and the forthcoming ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ I’m now thinking he’s actually a liar. There are 2 reasons for this. Firstly, it is because he said that this sequel to his 2016 masterpiece was better than the first film (it’s not) and secondly, he assured us that reports of terrible test scores for TCM were untrue, shortly before we heard it was getting dumped on Netflix.
Don’t Breathe 2 picks up with The Blind Man who they foolishly and retrospectively named Norman Nordstrom (terrible name), after the events of the first film, as he finds a little girl unconscious in the street following a house fire. Years later, we see he has taken her in and trained her to assassin level. The girl is eager to explore the surrounding area, but he keeps a tight rein on her, which is causing friction. He allows her to venture out one day and following a creepy encounter with a shady looking man in a public toilet, a gang of thugs break in to his home and kidnap the little girl, forcing the man out into the world.
So firstly, there is no denying that this sequel is a competently made film. I just wanted to get that out there right away. I should also acknowledge that I’m aware Alvarez handed directorial duties over to Rodo Sayagues for this one. It moves on from the building blocks laid out in the first film confidently, but sadly, it opts to go for violence and brutality over suspense, which I felt hurt the film.
Stephen Lang is excellent once again in the role of The Blind Man, Madelyn Grace is very good as the little girl, and the ensemble cast of thugs (including the always excellent and highly underrated Brendan Sexton III as their leader) are suitably menacing.
What I found perplexing, was that the film tries hard to make you think it’s one thing, then fools you into thinking you were wrong, before revealing it’s the very thing you thought it was all along. The story structure is baffling, the attempt to make the antagonist likeable whilst constantly reminding you what a bad man he is is conflicting, and the decision to take several set pieces from the first film but make them happen to The Blind Man this time around, wasn’t the cool callback I assume the filmmakers thought it was.
I probably sound like I didn’t like this film. I was conflicted as hell afterwards, but I ultimately did like it (I think). I just found it a wholly unnecessary sequel. This story could have been an unrelated film and would have been better for it. It’s as though they wanted to get a simplistic thriller made but had to tie it to an existing IP in order to get financed.
The ending was a bit maudlin but thankfully I missed the post-credits scene, which I think would’ve annoyed me even more. I don’t think we need any more sequels to this film. I don’t even think we needed this film. As for his take on TCM (again, I know he didn’t direct it) – only time will tell. I’ve got my eye on you, Fede Alvarez!