In Fede Alvarez’s Don’t Breathe, a home invasion goes just about as badly as a home invasion can possibly go. Stephen Lang’s Norman Nordstrom seems like an easy target – a blind man living alone on a vacated street and sitting on millions of dollars – but what the characters discover is that Norman is not only an armed and terrifying physical threat, but also a psychotic who thinks he is totally justified in keeping a woman locked up in basement. All plans get turned on their head with twist after twist, and it ultimately becomes more of a fight for survival than a robbery for the anti-heroes.

Five years later, Rodo Sayagues' Don’t Breathe 2 is finally almost here, and thanks to the trailer drop yesterday morning we now know that the plot will involve another home invasion set up. However, the circumstances are quite different this time around, which was something that was very much driven home earlier this week when I had the chance to attend a special footage presentation in Los Angeles.

In addition to featuring a Q&A with Rodo Sayagues and Fede Alvarez (who co-wrote the script together) and giving us an early look the trailer, the event provided the opportunity for invited members of the press to watch select scenes from the first half of the movie – delivering an impression of what to expect from the film. The take away is that Sayagues’ directing style is just as pull-no-punches as Alvarez’s, and that Don’t Breathe 2 is very clearly not going to be for audiences who are even remotely squeamish.

The principal reason the sequel’s home invasion is different than its predecessor’s is the fact that those who are committing the crime aren’t under the illusion that they have an opportunity to take advantage of old, blind man; they seem to know exactly who their target is, and what he can do. There is also, though, another important original factor in play: Norman isn’t alone in his house. Instead, he has a surrogate daughter staying with him, an 11-year-old girl named Phoenix (Madelyn Grace), and she is awake and alert when a mysterious group of men break in.

The Home Invasion Begins

The first sequence shown was set up to be a kind of echo of the impressive one-shot in the first act of Don’t Breathe – both dramatically kicking off the events of the break-in, and also providing an illustration of the space in which events play out. While a trio of shadowy figures waits silently outside in the dark, Norman goes out to his front porch calling for his dog to come get its dinner, shaking a can of dry food while he does. He gets no response and is surprised to discover that his pet’s bowl is still full from the previous meal. Meanwhile, the sinister triad slips inside.

Norman eventually finds the dead and bloody body of his dog on the lawn (and uses his finger to dig a bullet out of him), but meanwhile Phoenix is well-aware of the strangers roaming the house, and in her second-floor bedroom she makes moves to hide. While one of the hulking invaders (Rocci Williams) searches, she successfully slinks around silently – slipping from under her bedframe to the armoire just as the mattress gets flipped. She is eventually able to get downstairs by hanging from the banister and dropping, and she tries to make a run for the open back exit through the kitchen, but she freezes as a bullet whizzes past her and explodes in the door frame. A creep with blonde hair (Adam Young) approaches her with his gun, but shortly after he closes the door Norman attacks him through its window, putting him in a chokehold. Thanks to the distraction, Phoenix dashes for the basement and locks herself inside a metal cabinet – ending the first bit of footage.

Fun With Super Glue

The second sequence shown was much shorter, but definitely packed equal impact. Set in Norman’s garage, one of the invaders follows a trail of blood to try and get a jump on his target, but Norman winds up getting the jump on him instead. Moments later, the aforementioned blonde-haired creep finds his jumped cohort on the floor of the garage suffocating to death with his mouth and nose superglued shut. With limited options, the creep takes a screwdriver and jams it into his friend’s cheek. Blood spurts out, but the guy is able to breathe.

A Fight In A Basement

The third and final Don’t Breathe 2 clip brought the action back to the basement – finding the hulking invader using a hose to fill the metal cabinet with water so that the girl will unlock it and come out. With Phoenix stubbornly refusing, he then decides to take another tactic, which is to say that he cuts the cord of a trouble light hanging on the wall and threatens to fry the child by dangling the live wire into the water. As he does this, a leaking gas canister is thrown into the middle of the room, and it’s clear that Norman has arrived on the scene.

The two men tussle, and while doing so inadvertently turn the hose back on – meaning that the water level starts to rise closer and closer to the wire. Phoenix tries to escape, but find that she has trouble opening the cabinet doors underwater. Just in the nick of time, Norman unknowingly pulls the electric death away from the water, but he is put on the ropes by his opponent, who puts him in a hold and proclaims, “You’re tough, but you’re done.” As it turns out, this is a cocky line delivered too early, as Norman is able to slip out and flip a table for protection just as the gas from the canister is ignited by the wire, causing an explosion.

Recognizing the way that Don’t Breathe evolved through a series of surprises, it would be presumptuous to guess what else is in store in the rest of Don’t Breathe 2, but it can be said that the footage that was shown delivered the impression that fans can expect the sequel to be just as brutal and extreme as its predecessor. If the material shown is properly indicative of what’s to come, the sequel should make for one hell of a nerve-racking time at the movies.

If you’re now excited to experience the terror yourself, the good news is that the wait for the movie is almost over. Don’t Breathe 2 will be in theaters on August 13 – and you can scope out our 2021 Movie Release Calendar to discover everything else that is scheduled to arrive in theaters between now and the end of the year.

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