Film: Don’t Breathe 2
Director: Rodo Sayagues
Cast: Stephen Lang, Madelyn Grace, Brendan Saxton 111, Stephanie Arcila and others
Cinematography: Pedro Luque
Music: Roque Baños Lopez
Rating: 3.5 stars
Director Fede Alvarez’s Don’t Breathe, which released in 2016, thrilled us and left us all trembling in fear. Now, his co-writer, Rodo Sayagues, is back with a sequel that is equally thrilling but with a story that is remarkably different from the first part.
Rodo Sayagues, who makes his debut as a director with Don’t Breathe 2, tells a story that showcases the character of Norman Nordstorm, the powerful blind man, not as a villain but a hero.
While both parts have been jointly written by Fede Alvarez and Rodo Sayagues, the writers decided that the second part would be directed by Rodo Sayagues to see what all surprises this change could bring.
“The sequel came out of a place of trying to surprise ourselves and the audience,” Alvarez had said after reteaming with Sayagues to again co-write the sequel and then “change seats” when it came to direction.
“We didn’t want to do a sequel where it was ‘the same again, bigger.’ We are telling a completely different story that poses the same questions – how does the audience feel about this character and what he’s doing. Like any good thriller, it’s a riddle – every scene is a clue, and you have to put it together,” he had added.
To their credit, the experiment seems to have worked well and what you have is a thoroughly gripping, thrilling sequel that has you on the edge of your seats for the most part.
Soon after the break-in incident which leaves him a poorer man, Norman Nordstorm (played by Stephan Lang) finds a three-year-old child collapsed on the road, lying unattended in the uninhabited neighbourhood. He brings her home, names her Phoenix (Madelyn Grace), and begins to take care of her, treating her as his own daughter.
Eight years later, she has grown into a young confident 11-year-old. Norman Nordstrom’s world now revolves around his daughter, whom he loves dearly but with whom he deals sternly. He doesn’t allow her to socialise or send her to a school, something she longs for. Instead,he teaches her everything from school texts to survival skills, often putting her to the test and coming down harsh on her if she doesn’t pass them.
The girl invariably begins to feel lonely and longs to socialise with others of her own age. Her only relief is the occasional trip that he allows her for a day, when she gets to go with a woman ranger to a home in the city.
During one such trip, Phoenix catches the eye of a ‘weirdo’ in her words. Sure enough, trouble soon arrives in the form of intruders, led by this weirdo. This time, the intruders are not just ordinary burglars looking for Norman’s money. They are a bunch of highly trained marines, who have been dishonourably discharged, looking for Phoenix.
Standing between them and Phoenix is Norman, a visually challenged retired navy seal, who will do anything to save what is his…
Stephen Lang who plays Norman Nordstorm looks frail this time around but still manages to impress as the blind Man determined to defend what is his. The way his character has been fashioned in the sequel is interesting.
Firstly, Norman Nordstorm shows remorse for his previous crimes. He tells his daughter at one point that she should stay away from him because he has killed and raped. Another trait of Norman Nordstorm that makes you instantly like him is his love for animals. A case in point is the gentle manner in which he handles a dog, that is set upon him by his intruders. A while later, when they set fire to the house, he first sets the dog free before getting out himself.
Young Madelyn Grace is equally up to the task. She plays the part of a confused 11-year-old with conviction and displays confidence and courage where necessary.
Don’t Breathe 2 has probably the same amount of gripping moments as Don’t Breathe. The thrills maybe slightly less but are adequate enough to keep one entertained.
On the flip side, the brutality of the assaults in the action sequences are quite unsettling and bring a smirk to your face. There’s more blood, chopping and thumping in part 2 than there was in part 1. If you are averse to seeing gruesome scenes involving blood on screen then part 2 might not be to your liking.