...quite the confusing puzzle.
DON'T BREATHE 2 (2021)
If nothing else, the first Don’t Breathe really went for the jugular when it came to leaving an impression on its audience. The big twist of the movie was shocking and memorable for either good or bad reasons depending on where you stand. However, in doing so, it backed them into a corner. They now had a largely successful original horror film and potential horror icon in the blind man on their hands? Do they stop here despite the franchise potential due to their choice of having THAT twist in the original movie, or do they go for broke? Well there is a Don’t Breathe 2 isn’t there? For better or for worse.
Despite not being directed by Fede Alvarez this time around, it shares the same DNA as the first one. You get similar long takes and shots. It still looks as dirty and grimy as the first one. One could be fooled into thinking this is a Fede Alvarez movie. It’s about as well made as one could ask for with a schlocky horror film. It’s not reinventing the wheel but it feels in tone with the previous one aesthetically, which sometimes in a horror sequel is a large ask. For a first time director too, using Alvarez’s template isn’t a horrible idea.
This and the characters section is where I am most conflicted. I don’t know if I necessarily agree with the idea of making 'The Blind Man' the hero of the film after the events of the first movie. However, I don’t think the filmmakers did either. But they try to compensate by doing half measures here. They do a good job showcasing that he still has very deep and sinister flaws despite caring for a little girl. They hit home that he is still isn’t the best option for her. However, they also make a greater effort making us conflicted about the people who are trying to take her from him. The problem is it feels as if the filmmakers are at odds with the material and we left ping ponging. They eventually do commit to making one side the greater evil, but it comes in the most cartoonish way and you still aren’t content with its choice. Because once again, there is only one good person here and it is the little girl. But, I also conflicted with the direction they took the story. It’s not so much a horror film as it is a B-Movie take on Taken. There is no real horror and suspense in this story. Which is a shame because the first one, despite its many faults, was a good suspenseful flick. None of that is found here. I also feel like the first one did a better job of making us pick the lesser of two evils in that movie. Yes, the cast was full of horrible people. However, by the end, you definitely were rooting for the lead to escape the situation. Truthfully, most of this was done better in the first one.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
I love Stephen Lang and I love Stephen Lang as 'The Blind Man'. He is just as well performed here as he was in the first one. This movie also asks him to be a bit more dramatic in some scenes and he pulls them off. Stephen Lang isn’t the problem here, the direction of his character is what is up for debate here. Newcomer Madelyn Grace plays the young girl the two sides of vile people are warring after. She is excellent here. A child actor performance that is neither cringe or intolerable. She does a really good job here. The filmmakers do a good job at making us care for her. We may always be conflicted on whose side we are on with the two factions, but we are never conflicted that we want her to be safe and okay. The rest of the cast do fine playing vile, but definitely expendable mercenaries trying to get this little girl for bizarre reasons. There really isn’t a bad performance to be found here. Just some questionable decisions.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
Good gore effects in a movie like this are so crucial. Luckily enough, the effects team were on point here. You see screwdrivers go through people’s cheeks, an aftermath of a shovel attack. It all looks really good. So if you are a gorehound, they give you just enough to latch onto here. The good eye effects on Stephen Lang in the first one are present here. No dip in quality in that department. Which is good, because those eyes were some of the scariest bits of the first one.
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
The score is unmemorable stock horror stuff. Ambient music until a loud thud happens to make the audience jolt. Nothing to write home to mom about. I suppose it’s fine as it serves its purpose, but knowing that Halloween Kills is on the horizon, and knowing that it is gonna have a kick-ass John Carpenter score, just makes you pine for when all horror films went that hard in the score department. The bigger offense here is that the first one played with sound a lot more. A lot of the horror came from the sound design. When the leads would make a sudden noise and 'The Blind Man' would appear or when you could hear 'The Blind Man' moving but can’t see him. However, since the filmmakers opted to make this more action oriented, that pretty much falls to the wayside.
I don’t know. Don’t Breathe 2 in a vacuum isn’t a half bad revenge vigilante flick. Something you could have picked up on VHS and had fun watching with your friends back in the day. But if you look at it as a whole, it is quite the confusing puzzle. I think I liked it despite the very real and misguided issues it has in its very existence. I guess, I would describe it like watching Jackass. You know what these wild men are doing to themselves is a bad idea and is incredibly misguided, but deep in the pit of your stomach you are glad they did. Just because it gave you something to talk about that you normally wouldn’t have. Sometimes boldness is for the brave and stupid.