Don’t breathe 2 opens onto a desolate street in a ruined neighborhood, a reminder to the first. A young girl walks away from a raging and collapsing fire. Cut to eight years later, where the girl (Madelyn Grace) is now learning survival skills under the guidance of his strict father, the Blind. She feels lonely and rebellious, prompting Dad to release his control just enough for him to take a trip to town. The young girl attracts the attention of a group of thugs, which triggers a new home invasion with higher and more deadly stakes.
Alvarez and Don’t breathe co-author Rodo Sayagues change places for this suite. The duo co-wrote the screenplay, but it’s now Sayagues in the director’s seat. It gives a very different feel to the approach and the trajectory. While the first home invasion scenes that see the men, led by Raylan (Brendon Sexton III), the search for the girl in her own house creates some tension, finished with that exhausting and relentless suspense that took your breath away. In its place are a much higher body count, larger sets, visceral and bloody violence, and a showcase of men’s evils. The Blind is no hero, but Sayagues makes it clear that there is always worse.
Caught in the middle is the girl that both parties are ready to kill for, and she’s the one who sparks endless rooting interest. Grace plays her with enough purity and gentleness to instantly feel protective of the character, but with enough fighting spirit to leave you desperate to hope that she will come out relatively unscathed. This is basically her story and all the mysteries relate to her. Her identity itself is a bit of a mystery; the truth behind the opening of fire, why Raylan’s group are so determined to claim her and how she came to the blind man’s care.
Sayagues establishes early clues well, guiding your expectations so that he can occasionally come up with unpleasant twists and revelations. It moves on to a dark and bloody third act filled with impressive action sets and combat choreography. It all adds up to how depraved these evil men can be 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 is not an act of redemption but an act of reconciliation. Atonement, to a certain extent. Don’t breathe 2 doesn’t explicitly address his actions from the first film, but that doesn’t let him get away with it either. However, it goes a long way to establish how monstrous the villains are in comparison, which ends up casually casting the blind man in a more favorable light. All of this gives a reasonably satisfactory finish. However, stick through the credits for a post-credit answer to a minor, lingering question.
Sayagues and lvarez postulate that sometimes only fire can fight fire, or more brazenly, only a killer blind to his sins can fight evil in the dark. Neither the winners nor the heroes. Don’t breathe 2 widens the world a bit, increasing the focus on action and body count, providing more inventive and impressive sets in the process. The downside is that this sequel fails to inject or maintain the same tense, biting levels of tension that made its predecessor stand out. Between the gore, the conclusion, and Grace’s groundbreaking performances, however, the sequel brings mind-blowing pleasure.
Don’t breathe 2 hits theaters August 13, 2021.