First 'Don't Breathe 2' Footage Teases A New Direction For The Series, But A Familiar Tone

Give or take one turkey baster, Fede Álvarez's 2016 thriller, Don't Breathe, is a lot of fun. By moving the emphasis from the victim to the perpetrators, Álvarez and his co-writer, Rodo Sayagues, breathed new life into the home-invasion thriller. They also created one of the most memorable cinematic villains of the past decade: Stephen Lang's Norman Nordstrom, a blind veteran who's more than a match for the teenage thieves ransacking his house.

From the looks of things, Don't Breathe 2, which premieres in theaters on August 13, 2021, is going to flip the script again. For the sequel, Sayagues is in the director's chair, making his feature film debut. Instead of the bad guy, Norman is the protagonist — and, this time, he's not fighting off amateurs, but trained professionals.

The day before the Don't Breathe 2 trailer's official release, Álvarez and Sayagues screened the new teaser and three exclusive clips for members of the press and participated in a lengthy Q&A session. If you've been holding your breath in anticipation of the upcoming sequel, here's what you missed.

Norman Has a New Family, But Struggles With the Same Old Problems

stephen lang don't breathe 2

The Don't Breathe 2 trailer does an excellent job quickly layout out the movie's basic plot. Eight years after Don't Breathe, Norman is living in a remote farmhouse with an 11-year-old girl named Phoenix. As Don't Breathe fans remember, Norman's whole goal is to recreate the family he lost when his daughter was killed by a drunk driver. As the trailer begins, it looks like Norman has received his wish. While his parenting methods are unconventional (they involve a lot of hardcore survival training), both Norman and Phoenix seem happy.

It doesn't last. Before the trailer hits its midpoint, a gang of hardened criminals break into the farmhouse, ostensibly looking for Phoenix. To protect her, Norman resorts to his old, violent ways. He begins hunting down the invaders one-by-one — and, in the process, shows Phoenix what type of man he really is.

The three sequences screened for critics confirmed that, despite the new set-up, this is very much a Don't Breathe sequel. The first clip featured a long, unbroken shot in which Phoenix flees her pursuers. Álvarez and Sayagues admitted this was inspired by a similar shot in the first movie, although they tried to one-up themselves by adding more action to the scene.

Accordingly, while the Don't Breathe's big long-shot established some of the torments to come — the gun stashed under Norman's bed, for example, or the rickety crawl space where Jane Levy's character hides — the Don't Breathe 2 equivalent showcases Phoenix's physical gifts. We watch as she hides under her bed, scurries underneath a dresser, hangs off of the edge of a staircase, and finally makes her way to a closet. Her attackers remaining none the wiser.

Álvarez and Sayagues used another Don't Breathe callback in order to establish the sequel's villains. In the second clip, Norman and one of his attackers go toe-to-toe in the blind man's basement. By the filmmakers' own admission, it's a re-do of a fight that appeared in the original film. The difference? While Norman's original opponent was a mostly-helpless teenager, Norman's new foe is a trained professional. As such, the ensuing brawl is significantly more brutal.

Only the third and final clip contained something entirely new. In it, Norman hides in his garage, treating his injuries with super glue, when he's attacked again. A fight follows, mostly off screen. When we next see Norman's attacker, his mouth and nose are glued shut, forcing his partner to take some grisly measures in order to ensure that the man can breathe.

Both Sayagues and Álvarez stressed that the footage screened during this event comes exclusively from the movie's first hour. They promised repeatedly that the second half will have many more surprises. The trailer supports this argument. A shot of the house burning down, and Norman on the run, hints that there are probably some big twists in store.

Ultimately, Don't Breathe 2 Leaves Us With More Questions

Don't Breathe 2 Stephen Lang Chokehold

Stylistically, Don't Breathe 2 follows in its predecessor's footsteps. Again, Sayagues said, this is by design. Don't Breathe was a huge hit, and Sayagues and Álvarez didn't see any reason to reinvent things. "I don't want to make this movie my own," Sayagues said. "I want to make it good."

Still, in terms of tone, there are some notable differences between Don't Breathe and the portions we saw of Don't Breathe 2. The sequel feels bloodier and felt more violent than the original. There are more jump scares, less a sense of creeping dread. The kidnappers are more sadistic than Don't Breathe's teenage robbers, too — there was a moment in one clip that's sure to make animal lovers cringe — and Norman seems to have upped his game to match.

In addition, this time around, secrets drive much more of the action. The original Don't Breathe starts off pretty grounded, adding its mysteries slowly as it builds to its final, somewhat tasteless, reveal. In Don't Breathe 2, big questions are front and center. Where did Phoenix come from, and what's she doing with Norman? Why do the kidnappers want her — especially given that, judging by the clips, they're not particularly concerned with her safety? What other secrets is Norman hiding?

And then, of course, there's the biggest mystery of all: Can Don't Breathe 2 capture the fresh, innovative vibe of the first movie? Taken alone, every scene is stylish and exciting. But they're also familiar. The new premise is solid and the promise of Norman outside of the confines of his house is intriguing, but right now it's all still just that: a promise. Don't Breathe 2 clearly has the potential. Whether it delivers remains to be seen.