Don’t watch “Don’t Breathe 2”

Trigger warning: Mentions of sexual assault, forced pregnancy

“Don’t Breathe 2” is a 2021 horror film directed by Rodo Sayagues and written by Sayagues and Fede Alvarez. The film once again stars Stephen Lang as the Blind Man, and it follows him as he ventures out to find the people who kidnapped his adopted daughter.

I personally enjoyed the first film quite a bit, and I highly recommend it. It starts as a great home invasion thriller and then turns into extremely tense survival horror. From the cinematography, sound design and disturbing twists to the performances (specifically from Stephen Lang and Jane Levy) and Fede Alvarez’s directing, “Don’t Breathe” is a well-made and effective horror film.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for “Don’t Breathe 2,” which just didn’t need to exist.

To start on a positive note, I will say that the film has some solid directing, especially for a debut. Sayagues had a clear vision for what the film should look like, and he got some pretty impressive-looking shots. There’s also an early scene containing a well-executed one-shot that shows the young female lead fleeing from her pursuers.

And I’m out of compliments. The movie’s screenplay is an abomination. In order for me to talk about why I hate the screenplay, I have to discuss the plots of both “Don’t Breathe” films.

More importantly, I will have to mention sexual assault in order for me to fully criticize “Don’t Breathe 2.” Please keep this in mind and proceed with caution.

SPOILER ALERT for both “Don’t Breathe” films

“Don’t Breathe” follows Rocky, a young woman who wants to leave Detroit with her little sister. In order to do so, she enlists the help of her friend Alex and boyfriend Money to rob a blind former Navy SEAL. Years earlier, another young woman killed his daughter in an accidental hit-and-run, and he received a settlement.

The thieves wrongly assumed that his disability would make him helpless, and he kills Money and Alex, showing that his other senses have been heightened. Near the end of the film, we discover that the Blind Man had kidnapped and forcibly impregnated the girl who killed his daughter, with the mindset that she should bear him another child. The scene is disgusting, and I will admit that it is unnecessary. But all in all, “Don’t Breathe” created a truly terrifying horror villain with the Blind Man.

Unfortunately, the Blind Man is the protagonist and antihero of the sequel. He’s even given a sad excuse of a redemption arc, in which he repents for his acts of murder and rape, in spite of him showing barely any sort of remorse throughout the rest of the film. Not only is the character’s journey problematic, but it’s also very lazy.

The film also makes a point of making the Blind Man look like a hero in comparison to the film’s antagonists, which is an extremely irresponsible way to depict a rapist.

And the film keeps emphasizing how much worse the antagonists are supposed to be as people, and it’s honestly really funny how far they go to accomplish this. It’s such an overly complicated yet extremely stupid plot that falls apart under the slightest bit of scrutiny.

After the events of the first film, the Blind Man adopts a young girl and names her Phoenix. Eight years later, they’re attacked by a group of men led by Raylan, who reveals himself to be Phoenix’s father. They kidnap Phoenix and burn the house down, leaving the Blind Man for dead.

The audience discovers that Phoenix’s parents are meth dealers and that her mother needs a heart transplant due to a meth-related illness. Not only is this supposed to save her life, but it would also save their business, as she is the operation’s cook (and also because apparently there is nobody in Detroit who can either cook meth or learn how). So to save her, Raylan hires a doctor involved in an organ trafficking ring so that he can essentially sacrifice Phoenix to save his meth “empire.”

It’s extremely convoluted, and it baffles me that the writers thought that this film should make the Blind Man look good in comparison. Granted, there is some sort of satisfaction in seeing him murder the antagonists, but that’s just because I wanted to see these evil characters get their comeuppance.

Quite honestly, I would have liked the story a lot more if Phoenix’s parents were genuinely just trying to reconnect with their daughter and save her from a terrible person. If they didn’t have ulterior motives and were still brutally murdered by the Blind Man, the film would have worked as a continued showcase of how evil the character is. Not only that, but it wouldn’t try to serve as a redemption arc for him.

“Don’t Breathe 2” is a film that took a lot out of me. If this film was just a separate action film with no ties to “Don’t Breathe,” it would still have been a dull movie. Unfortunately, the film fails as much as it does because of how it treats the original. Rodo Sayagues admittedly did a solid job in terms of directing, but his and Alvarez’s screenplay is atrocious.

RATING: 2/10