STREAMING REVIEWS: Adolescent sex & blind rage

Published September 15, 2021, 7:28 PM

by Philip Cu Unjieng

Here are two new streaming options to look out for. Season 3 of Sex Education drops this Friday, Sept. 17; while Don’t Breathe 2 is even more violent and visceral than the first installment.

Sex Education, Season 3 (Netflix) – As one of the most successful original Comedy Series produced by Netflix, it stands to reason that they’ll squeeze Sex Education for all its worth. So no surprise to find there’s a new 3rd season that drops on this streaming platform on Sept. 17. It’s 8 new hour-long episodes; so for those who can’t seem to get enough of Moordale Secondary and the racially diverse, sex-obsessed adolescents who populate the school, this will be another opportunity to binge-watch and enjoy their company. And one of the alchemical tricks of the series has been how the adults, teachers, and parents, also have their own interesting backstories, and quite often, intersect with those of the kids realistically. Gender choice, in all its diversity and permutations, is also on display.

To keep things progressing, a new set of characters are introduced – there’s new head teacher Hope (Jemima Kirke), and a non-binary student named Cal (Dua Saleh). Of course, Otis & Maeve are still around with their Will They, Won’t They dalliance. Got the opportunity to watch the new season and if anything, the cast is beginning to look too old to get away as Secondary students, so this better be the last season, or they’ll be requiring a budget for de-aging CGI, à la Scorsese’s The Irishman. The stories still dovetail on each other in excellent form, it’s just that some narrative strands, like to one between Otis and Maeve begin to wear thin. The new characters are interesting ones, so these new storylines resonate, but I do hope they’ll quit while they’re ahead.

Don’t Breathe 2 (Video On Demand) – The first Don’t Breathe was a superb exercise in terror, adventure, and bloody, visceral action. As the blind Norman, Stephen Lang was excellent in showcasing both physical disability and acute control of his environment and physical attributes. That this was explained with his ex-Navy SEAL status cemented just how effective and credible this portrayal was. As the source of terror, even if it’s ignited by his home being invaded, Norman was the perfect anti-hero. So for this second film, the obvious pivot was to make Norman the outright hero, besieged by ‘bad guys’, and protecting a young girl, 11-year-old Phoenix (Madelyn Grace), that he rescued and raised. There’s even a John Wick-type scenario that’s used to push Norman over the edge.

Fede Alvarez and Rodo Sayagues collaborated on the first film, directing and writing; and in DB2, Sayagues takes over the directing chores. This second installment is actually more bloody, more visceral than the first, and I would guess that this going all out Giallo-style, is part of their trying to bring something new to the table. But with the novelty of your blind avenger lost, I’m not certain if upping the stakes on the villainy and gore was all you should have relied on. The Phoenix character is the best thing in this film, but even here, after the more than promising start, the filmmakers seem conflicted on whether to stick with her in tandem with Norman, or keep Norman in the center of all the middle portion of the film. I feel that’s where they lost the opportunity to really make us invest in the film’s narrative that much more.