It took an extra year to revisit John Krasinski’s silent world of A Quiet Place. With more distance between a film and it’s sequel comes more expectations, however unfair that may be. We, as audience members, have had more time to review the original, and project in our minds what we think we’ll see once we finally return to the theatre. Against all of these expectations and the stereotypes that sequels carry, A Quiet Place Part II proved to be well worth the wait, and maybe just a little more.
A Quiet Place Part II follows directly after the events of the original. The Abbott family, having lost their patriarch Lee (John Krasinski), set out from their destroyed farm in search of help. Evelyn (Emily Blunt), along with her newborn baby, her daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds), and son Marcus (Noah Jupe) wander to an abandoned factory, which they find to be the new home of their family friend from the past, Emmitt (Cillian Murphy). Armed with the key to save humankind (the interference from her hearing aid), Regan splits from the family in search of a mysterious functional radio station, planning to broadcast the sound throughout the area. Emmitt, having lost most of his faith in his fellow man, scrambles at the behest of Evelyn to take her in as the rest of the family tend to their injuries and fend off the worsening barrage of alien creatures.
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“…captivating, nerve-wracking, and most of all, entertaining.”
While innovative and refreshing to the horror genre, the concept of the original felt just a little bit gimmicky with so much of its importance tied to the sound design, similar to a movie filmed in 3D. In A Quiet Place Part II, the sound is just as impressive, but it very noticeably takes a backseat to a heftier, well-developed plot. The result is a stronger level of suspense built less upon jump scares and the anticipation of “what cool thing will they do with the sound now?” than its predecessor. That’s not to say you won’t be jumping out of your seat every once in a while, but they hit less frequently, and the scares are much more earned. Krasinski’s writing really is the strength of this entry, as it avoids the feel of cash grabs and their hastily assembled plots. A Quiet Place Part II is simply just that, part II, a continuation. As the Abbots walked out of their ravaged home, we walked out with them, right back into the story we left in 2018.
A Quiet Place will likely be held in higher regard due to its originality, and perhaps that’s a fair way to assess it. But let’s rip the band-aid off right now – A Quiet Place Part II is the better film. It is clear that writer/director/actor John Krasinski is now in full control of his creation. Everything the original did well, this film exceeds. The set pieces and the overall atmospheric horror engulfing them are phenomenal, particularly Emmitt’s living quarters and the savaged train station sequences. The suspense is unrelenting and well crafted throughout the 97 minute runtime, which happens to be just the right length for this episode. There will be no glances at your phone to see how much longer you have to wait to use the bathroom, as Krasinski keeps you engaged from start to finish.
Actress Millicent Simmonds steals the spotlight with her performance as Regan, the story’s new main protagonist. Filling the void left by Lee‘s death in the original, Regan steps into the role of the family protector, bravely venturing out on her own to save her family. Simmonds’ ability to portray emotion and lead this film solely with facial expressions and physical action is truly a sight to behold. Cillian Murphy is a welcomed addition to the premise, and his performance in many ways outshines Krasinski’s original role as the main male lead. It takes quite some time to trust his role as a protagonist, as his portrayal walks a thin line between damaged survivor and unstable threat. Seriously, who could sleep one minute in that factory lair? Yikes.
Most of the minor complaints against A Quiet Place Part II are problems that are inherent with the premise as a whole. A year plus into such a cataclysmic event, would a pharmacy still be semi-stocked with medications? Would it really still be necessary, having spent so much time around creatures that track and kill you solely by sound, to mime “shh” several times throughout your stroll through the woods? Probably not. That said, these are plot cheats audiences should be willing to forgive so long as the film is overwhelmingly entertaining, which A Quiet Place Part II certainly is.
My biggest issue with the film is its reluctance to explore the darkness they tease in the world they created. One of the most fascinating avenues the best sequels explore, particularly in horror, is witnessing the repercussions of the original film’s actions. This is touched upon, as Emmitt remarks that the Abbott family does not understand what the outside world has become since the invasion. While we do get a sequence of this, it doesn’t pay off as much as it could have. Perhaps I wanted to see humans become an equal villain to the alien monsters? Unfortunately for this nihilist, Evelyn is correct. There are people worth saving. Though A Quiet Place Part II may not have capitalized fully on its opportunities to expand into more sinister territory, it becomes clear by the credits’ roll that this franchise is not intended to be a lesson in hopelessness, and I accept that for what it is.
Despite these nit-picks, A Quiet Place Part II does a whole lot of things right. As a part two of an obvious trilogy in the making, the film does a great job of balancing its controlled release of information. Questions from the original are answered, the most satisfying being “What the hell happened?” in a fantastic cold open of the Day 1 invasion. Yet, plenty of questions remain unanswered for a concluding installment. Middle installments of trilogies can sometimes feel like a boring sleepwalk into the final film, acting merely as a placeholder to get viewers into the big finale. A Quiet Place Part II avoids this trap, as the ride from start to finish is captivating, nerve-wracking, and most of all, entertaining. Ending on another cliffhanger, A Quiet Place Part II leaves me excited to see how Krasinski and co. will follow up this very solid entry, hopefully, one year sooner than last time.
“A Quiet Place will likely be held in higher regard due to its originality […but] let’s rip the band-aid off right now – A Quiet Place Part II is the better film.”
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