Vampire Owl: Do you remember when was the last time we had gone on a trip that had visions that made us forget to breathe?
Vampire Bat: That was to the Lake of Blood, a long time ago.
Vampire Owl: It is actually called the Lake of Death.
Vampire Bat: Yes, but it has so much of blood, and we cannot avoid that name.
Vampire Owl: The trips have been banned for some time.
Vampire Bat: A trip to Munnar always makes things better.
Vampire Owl: You cannot always trust the highlands.
Vampire Bat: What about some lakeside time at Kumbalanghi?
Vampire Owl: Well, the only trip we might be getting is with corona virus.
Vampire Bat: That is more of a visit and not a trip.
[Gets a masala dosa and three cups of black tea].
What is the movie about? :: Eight long years have passed after the incidents of the first film, and things have changed now. Norman Nordstrom (Stephen Lang) the blind Navy SEAL veteran has recovered from his injuries, and now lives with his daughter Phoenix (Madelyn Grace) and a ferocious dog to take care of them and the property. He tells Phoenix that her mother had died in a terrible fire in their old house, after which he has been taking care of her. He keeps training her in the name of surviving. His only contact in the society is Hernandez (Stephanie Arcila), a former US Army Ranger and a good friend of Norman. She is the one who always takes Phoenix outside for some fun. It is the same time when a lot of news about abductions by organ trafficking gangs among others are coming up, and Norman feels that it is not safe at all. She finds Raylan (Brendan Sexton III) in the washroom, but he is scared away by the dog. But it seems that he doesn’t stop following her. Hernandez feels that the girl should be out more, and that Norman should stop thinking about his past wars and be nicer to people.
So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Hernandez feels that the man whom he had met earlier was just a weird man, and there is no shortage of such people in the area. But she comes up against the same person much later on the road, and feels that there is more to him than what meets the eye. Soon, she is killed while on the way back home, by the same people. Norman is against her going to school, choosing homeschooling over her meeting more people outside. Soon, a group of led by Raylan reaches their home, and after killing the dog, kidnaps the girl. He tells her that it is not him that she needs to be scare of, but the man next to her. He adds that he is her real father, and that the blind man took her home to replace his own dead daughter. She resists, but is choloroformed, while Norman is left to die after they set fire to the house. He escapes with the help of the dog which the intruders had brought with them. Even though Raylan was looking for his daughter, he does have another motive. What would that be?
The defence of Don’t Breathe 2 :: There are some fine action sequences with interesting use of darkness, as everything is set in two different buildings. The fight scenes have enough to stay in our minds, even though not as much as the first film. Some of the memorable scenes include the blind man’s use of the environment to survive and continue to combat against all odds – it is a much more difficult task for him in comparison to the first movie. The environment has been well-created, and you do feel that presence of evil at all times. Almost everyone in the film is evil, and it is a reminder of inherent human evil itself – you know that people need to be dead to be not evil anymore, as we don’t usually see good people around. The small number of people whom we meet here are reflections of the same evil, with some of them being a little evil, others more evil, and the rest being completely evil. The other characters are not present in the movie, and the girl remains the only hope for a deviation along with the children with whom she play at times.
The claws of flaw :: It is clear that this movie doesn’t maintain the quality of the first film, and it does struggle to live up to the novel idea and quality that it had maintained. The idea of transforming the blind man into saviour might not be interesting for everyone, and he also seems to do a little too much for a man for his situation. He doesn’t seem to have much of a way forward around, as far as the character is concerned – there is no strong motive to support a further character development, with material seemingly less in comparison to the earlier movie. The first film served better as a horror film focusing on survival, but this one moves too much away from that genre which served so well. With a grand change in the character, this is something which struggles to take control of the deviation well enough – maybe it requires another sequel to deal with that, but that would make one wonder what is to be done next. You know that there are better possibilities with horror characters like this one, but the studio seems to think in a different way so as to make the person useful as a protagonist instead.
The performers of the soul :: It is once again the performance of Stephen Lang as the blind man which keeps the movie going – he does seem to play a more tired person here though, as there seems to be a struggle here which is more than the first movie. With a drastic change coming upon the nature of the character, the man does take it with him well enough, even when that often leads to a struggle. He excels in the action scenes, and is good enough to take it to the next level, rising about the others who are part of the fights. Brendan Sexton III makes a pretty good antagonist, even though the idea focuses more on action rather than anything else. Madelyn Grace plays the child well, while Stephanie Arcila’s short presence is memorable enough. Christian Zagia plays a thug with a conscience pretty well. Even then, it is Fiona O’Shaughnessy who seems to be more evil than any other, as she is one mother whom the sons and daughters won’t appreciate for selflessness – there seems to be a certain amount of witch-likeness in her.
How it finishes :: The fans of the first movie will find it difficult to miss this movie, even though it is weaker in comparison the earlier flick. There is no real horror or the surprise element, but the film scores in action. An old and blind man with a special set of skills is someone of interest as he looks forward to save his daughter, and he is also an iconic character. The memories of the earlier movie also keeps us interested well enough. Among the horror movie sequels, this is the one which we have waited for, more than the other usual ones like The Conjuring, Annabelle, Insidious, Sinister etc. After all, Don’t Breathe had the skills to go divergent, and this one takes the path set by that particular movie. It means that you can be assured that this movie has a nice enough background to build on, and cannot go too wrong with this character at the core. Even though it didn’t release here in the theatres at that times, the movie is now available on Netflix, which is a fine relief for us, as we have been waiting for so long.
Release date: 18th December 2021 (Netflix); 13th August 2021 (USA)
Running time: 99 minutes
Directed by: Rodo Sayagues
Starring: Stephen Lang, Madelyn Grace, Brendan Sexton III, Bobby Schofield, Adam Young, Stephanie Arcilla, Fiona O’Shaughnessy, Steffan Rhodri, Diaana Babnicova, Christian Zagia, Rocci Williams
@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.