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Don’t Breathe 2

In the early 1900’s, the first film sequel appeared. Some have said that honour belongs to 1916’s ‘Fall of a Nation’ while others claim a Danish Sherlock Holmes series pre-dating that was first. In any case, a precedent had been set with follow-ups to successful movies continuing into the new Century. ‘Don’t Breathe 2’ is the latest in the endless glut of sequels. The challenge for these works is to equal and better the experience of its initial entry. In that regard ‘Don’t Breathe 2’ doesn’t reach those heights as its’ breathless escapades amount to little.

Years after battling thieves invaded his home, blind army veteran Norman (Stephen Lang) is at peace. Living with his young daughter Phoenix (Madelyn Grace), he hopes he can live free of further stress. This never happens as another bunch of intruders invade his space. Targeting his daughter, Norman’s deadly survival skills kick in with his iron-willed determination ready to eradicate those daring to cross his path.

If the first instalment was a horror, ‘Don’t Breathe 2’ plays more like a thriller. One of its few interesting graces is how it turns Norman from a horrific killer into an almost heroic character. The classic theme of ‘a monster will always meet something more evil than itself’ is played out in savage fashion. That’s perhaps the best thing about ‘Don’t Breathe 2’ – Norman’s redemption for past sins as he confronts his actions. Saying all this may give the film more credit than it deserves but it generates interest in a story not having much of it.

‘Don’t Breathe 2’ falls apart quite quickly. The script relies too much on coincidence and contrives character motivations in ridiculous ways. Apart from Lang and Grace, the performances are terrible with barely any sympathetic characters found. The direction feels lazy as does the over-abundance on jump scares. These make for dull viewing and makes one wish a sequel hadn’t been attempted.

Offering mediocre thrills and pedestrian plotting, ‘Don’t Breathe 2’ is generally a waste of time. Apart from glimpses of something interesting, it leans on a mechanical formula to dish out its story. The end comes as a relief and it is hoped a third outing doesn’t materialise as any more would lead viewers up another blind alley.

Rating out of 10: 3

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Candyman

‘Candyman’ is based on the short story by English horror novelist Clive Barker, who also found success with his ‘Hellraiser’ series. The concept is derived from a ghoulish urban legend – a horrific folklore tale passed around as being true. Such urban legends have spun-off multiple films daring viewers to believe their terrible stories no matter how outlandish. ‘Candyman’ has been more successful than most, with this instalment being the fourth outing. A direct sequel to the 1992 original and shows Barker’s skills in creating gritty reality amidst ghastly visions in all its deadly glory.

Visual artist Anthony (Yahya Abdul-Mateen) and his girlfriend Brianna (Teyonah Parris) live in Chicago’s Cabrini Green neighbourhood. Looking for a way to kick-start his stalled artistic career, Anthony hears of the Candyman urban legend. Little does he know of the horrors soon to be unleashed when he uses it as a basis for his new set of paintings. When his name is said five times, Candyman’s (Tony Todd) vengeful spirit resurfaces, eager to wreak havoc on a new batch of unwilling victims.

The biggest thing people want to know is – is ‘Candyman’ scary? The answer is mostly yes which is due to great performances and strong direction. The original film is used as a jumping off point to establish a new mythology whilst at the same time referencing the first movie as its own type of urban legend. Directing from her co-written script, Nia DaCosta shows a lot of visual flair as well as creating engaging characters you care about. Although the story is played out in a somewhat low-key manner allowing it to gradually creep up on you in a way that would make Candyman proud.

‘Candyman’ has a fine ensemble who are effectively used. Abdul-Mateen adds much gravitas to Anthony, a character battling his own demons as well as Candyman’s. Tony Todd clearly enjoys returning to his horrific role, giving Candyman a brooding menace. The screenplay does lose its way towards the end, making it difficult to follow exactly what’s happening. The striking production design and intense music score paper over some of these cracks in style, although there’s a sense the story needed more re-writing for it to be truly compelling.

There’s no need to have not seen the original film to follow ‘Candyman’. Enough background is given to know the set up even if the film overall doesn’t quite pay off as it should. It more than makes up for any flaws with its unsettling atmosphere and creativity. Those who like a different type of horror movie should like it, although after viewing his latest outing saying the title character’s name multiple times wouldn’t be wise.

Rating out of 10: 7

CURRENTLY SCREENING IN CINEMAS