Don't Breathe 2 Reviews Are Online, Here's What Critics Are Saying About The Horror Sequel

Stephen Lang in Don't Breathe 2

It’s fitting that Friday the 13th is this week, as the follow up to 2016’s Don’t Breathe arrives on Friday, August 13. Stephen Lang returns as the blind Norman Nordstrom in Don’t Breathe 2, set eight years after the original. In the sequel, Nordstrom lives with 11-year-old Phoenix, but after she is kidnapped, he must use his military training to save her. The horror thriller features Madelyn Grace as Phoenix, along with Brendan Sexton III, Bobby Schofield, Rocci Williams, Adam Young, and Christian Zagia. The movie was directed by Rodo Sayagues (in his directorial debut) and the screenplay was co-written by Sayagues and Fede Álvarez, who directed the first film.

As previously stated, Don’t Breathe 2 will debut in theaters on Friday, August 13, and it looks absolutely brutal. Critics have started releasing their reviews of the action thriller, so let’s take a look at what they’re saying.

Starting with the CinemaBlend side as always, Eric Eisenberg was disappointed with Don’t Breathe 2, rating it 1.5 out of 5 stars. While he thought the violence was satisfying, that’s about the only thing he enjoyed, and argued that this sequel is a disaster. Eisenberg noted that the biggest problem in the horror thriller is that Lang’s Nordstrom is a terrible protagonist. The filmmakers try to make viewers root for the blind man, but it’s impossible to forget that he did some truly monstrous things in the original film. The attempt to make viewers sympathetic towards him was “gross,” according to Eisenberg, and he said:

It subtracts so much of what was great about the original, and makes a huge miscalculation in changing the focus, and then problems continue to compound with its paper thin characters and utterly ridiculous secret plot.

Benjamin Lee from The Guardian shared a lot of Eisenberg’s sentiments about Don’t Breathe 2, noting that it should instead be titled Don’t Breathe 2: Don’t Bother. For one, he argued that a sequel to the first film wasn't even necessary. And two, he noted that, after seeing what Nordstrom was capable of in the first installment (ahem, he’s a murderer and a rapist), why should we care about what happens to him? The movie never gives us a real answer, according to Lee, and thus viewers really don’t care about any of the characters. Lee said:

Lang is an effectively imposing physical presence but his character remains a problem the film isn’t able to fix.

The portrayal of monster-turned-savior is something quite a few critics just couldn’t get past, as evidenced above, and is again shared in Chris Evangelista’s review for SlashFilm. While he thought it was commendable that the action horror flick at least tried something new (aka, make the slasher character into someone heroic) rather than recycle the same ideas from the first movie, he thought it “asks for too much sympathy for the devil.” Evangelista thought Lang and Grace were at least quite good in their performances, but the problem is that they weren’t given much to work with, saying:

There’s a sleazy sort of vibe to some moments that go a long way – but not nearly long enough. And it’s consistently hard to look beyond the film’s portrayal of old Norman.

While Aaron Neuwirth from We Live Entertainment thought there were some clever bits in the action movie, he also thought the attempt to turn The Blind Man into an anti-hero didn’t work. He thought the filmmakers were eventually going to provide a justification for rooting for Nordstrom, but it never came, and he also thought the horror film wasn’t even very scary. Neuwirth said:

The attempt to redirect our feelings on the series’ villain is a poor misstep, leaving it up to the film to at least deliver tense set pieces involving people sneaking around and trying not to get killed. These are similarly not all that impressive, leaving a movie without solid footing in multiple areas and a horror film, as a whole, that has run out of oxygen.

Jude Dry from IndieWire actually had more of a positive opinion of Don’t Breathe 2, in stark contrast to the previous critics listed. She thought the plot twists were clever, as well as the cinematography. She enjoyed many performances, specifically Stephen Lang’s as The Blind Man. She thought the plot lacked real depth, though, and tried to hard to grasp for it, like in a certain scene towards the end, saying:

While the reminder of Norman’s horrific backstory might feel necessary, it only scans as awkward in what is supposed to be a humanizing moment for the guy we’ve been rooting for all along. Some bad guys can change, it seems, but Don’t Breathe 2 needs to remember when it’s time to give the real oxygen.

Well, it seems like most critics really disliked this movie. Will audiences feel a different way? We'll soon find out, when the horror thriller releases only in theaters on Friday, August 13.

In the meantime, you can plan your next movie-going experience with our 2021 new movie release guide.

Sydney Skubic