Never have there been so many shades of gray as in the violent, gritty actioner “Don’t Breathe 2.” This is a better-than-average sequel, full of cringe-worthy violence and character revelations. Some of them strain credibility, but they’re still intriguing.

You may remember from the first film Norman Nordstrom (once again played wonderfully by Stephen Lang) was a human monster who committed unspeakable crimes. Here he’s not exactly a hero, but he’s not the villain, either.

In fact, director Rodo Sayagues Mendez almost dares his viewers to pick either category for his characters.

This time around, Norman, who is blind, remains as tough and cunning as always, ever on the alert for invaders and for the safety of his daughter Phoenix (Madelyn Grace.) She longs to go to school and be with other kids, but he tells her that’s too dangerous, and continues to put her through strenuous survival workouts.

 On a rare outing, the lonely Phoenix meets up with a creepy guy who corners her in a washroom. We can sense he will be pivotal in her near future.

It wouldn’t be fair to tell you much more than that, except you may never look at Super Glue the same way again. And it isn’t a spoiler to tell you that, for all you Shakespeare aficionados, there’s a definite nod to “King Lear.”

Especially for those who have seen the first film – and I imagine most viewers have or will want to, all the better to follow the plot trajectory – it won’t be easy to root for Norman. After all, he’s the guy who curdled our blood in the first film. But you might find yourself doing exactly that before it’s all over.

This is not for the faint of heart. But it’s a worthwhile follow-up for horror/thriller aficionados.

2 ½ stars

Rated: R for foul language, graphic violence and gore.

Running time: One hour and 38 minutes.

In theaters.