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Thursday, August 12, 2021

[Review] ‘Don’t Breathe 2’ Pits Monster Against Monster in Less Suspenseful, More Savage Sequel

Fede Álvarez’s Don’t Breathe saw a trio of unlikeable characters break into a house with the intent to steal cash from a Blind Man (Stephen Lang). The twist was that these characters garnered sympathy because the Blind Man quickly established himself to be the bigger monster that doled out gruesome punishments for their trespass. The heinous acts he committed marked him as irredeemable. Don’t Breathe 2 doesn’t really try to redeem him, nor does it match the unrelenting suspense of its predecessor. But it does attempt to flip the script a bit, doling out even more savage violence as it pits monster against a gauntlet of bigger monsters.

Don’t Breathe 2 opens to a desolate street in a crumbling neighborhood, a callback to the first. A young girl wanders away from a raging fire and collapses. Cut to eight years later, where the girl (Madelyn Grace) now learns survival skills under the guidance of her strict dad, the Blind Man. She’s lonely and feeling rebellious, prompting dad to loosen his control just enough to allow her to take a trip into town. The girl catches the attention of a group of thugs, which sparks a new home invasion with higher, deadlier stakes.

Álvarez and Don’t Breathe co-writer Rodo Sayagues switch places for this continuation. The pair co-wrote the screenplay, but it’s now Sayagues in the director’s seat. It gives a very different feel to approach and trajectory. While the early home invasion scenes that see the men, led by Raylan (Brendon Sexton III), search for the girl in her own home create some tension, gone is that grueling, relentless suspense that left you breathless. In its place are a much higher body count, larger set pieces, visceral, blood-spurting violence, and a showcase of the evils of men. The Blind Man is no hero, but Sayagues paints a clear picture that there’s always worse.

Caught in the middle is the girl that both parties are willing to kill for, and it’s she who engenders endless rooting interest. Grace plays her with enough purity and sweetness to instantly feel protective of the character, but with enough fighting spirit to leave you desperately hoping she’ll make out of all clutches relatively unscathed. This is, essentially, her story and all mysteries tie back to her. Her identity itself is a bit of a mystery; the truth behind the opening fire, why Raylan’s group is so hellbent to claim her, and how she came to the Blind Man’s care. 

Sayagues lays down the foreshadowing clues well, steering your expectations so he can occasionally offer up some nasty twists and reveals. It revs up to one grim, blood-soaked third act filled with impressive action set pieces and fight choreography. It’s all supplemental to just how depraved these evil men can get here; very few have any semblance of a moral compass. It’s by design, of course. The Blind Man’s quest to keep his new daughter safe isn’t a redeeming act but one of reconciliation. Of atonement, to an extent. Don’t Breathe 2 doesn’t explicitly address his actions from the first film, but it doesn’t exactly let him off the hook, either. It does, however, go to great lengths to establish how monstrous the villains are by comparison, which winds up sloppily casting the Blind Man in a more favorable light. All of it builds to a reasonably satisfying finish. Though, stay through the credits for a post-credit answer to one minor, lingering question.

Sayagues and Álvarez posit that sometimes only fire can fight fire, or more cheekily, only that a killer blind to his sins could combat the evil in the dark. Neither are winners or heroes. Don’t Breathe 2 expands the world a bit, upping the ante on the action and body count, offering more inventive and impressive set pieces in the process. The downside is that this sequel doesn’t manage to inject or sustain the same taut, nail-biting tension levels that made its predecessor stand out. Between the gore, the conclusion, and Grace’s breakthrough performance, though, the sequel does bring some eye-gouging fun.

Don’t Breathe 2 arrives in theaters August 13, 2021.



source https://bloody-disgusting.com/reviews/3677920/review-dont-breathe-2-pits-monster-monster-less-suspenseful-savage-sequel/

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