Synopsis – Following the events at home, the Abbott family now face the terrors of the outside world. Forced to venture into the unknown, they realize that the creatures that hunt by sound are not the only threats that lurk beyond the sand path.
My Take – Upon release in 2018, actor-writer-director John Krasinski‘s A Quiet Place turned out to be deserving success story, as it introduced a novel premise which saw the world overrun by alien monsters possessed with acute hearing, forcing human survivors to get by without making any form of noise or sound.
With its focus firmly on the survival adventures of the Abbott family, which saw Krasinski himself, his real-life spouse actress Emily Blunt, and rising stars, deaf actress Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe fill up the lead roles, the film forced the immersed audience to follow their lead and stay quiet, making it quite the unique theatrical experience.
Of course, like most films, success also guarantees a sequel, compelling Krasinski to immediately start working on one, while also leaving behind original story creditors and co-writers Bryan Woods and Scott Beck to move on to Haunt (2019) and the Quibi series, 50 States of Fright.
Now finally released, following multiple delays due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Krasinski‘s much hyped follow-up to his 2018 breakout hit is unsurprisingly yet another superb action-horror film experience that’s bigger, bolder, and scarier than its predecessor.
Unlike most horror sequels, this one is a powerful continuation of the original story that retains all the aspects that worked in its predecessor while also exploring new themes and character developments. If the first film was efficient horror storytelling, the sequel expands a little more into the post-apocalyptic, answering some unanswered questions, all the while retaining its heart and laying out the table for a future franchise.
Beginning with a superb prologue which takes us back to the Day 1 of the invasion, the story heads forward to Day 474, picking up immediately after the first film’s ending. Once again follows the remaining members Abbott family that consists of the resourceful mother Evelyn (Emily Blunt), the anxious son Marcus (Noah Jupe), the independent hearing-impaired daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds), and a newborn son, who are forced to abandon their wrecked farmhouse to look for another place, after having successfully killed an alien creature for the first time.
While they have figured out a trick to weaken the monsters enough to kill them, it still doesn’t prevent them from falling in danger again, only to be rescued by Emmett (Cillian Murphy), an old friend of Evelyn and Lee (John Krasinski), who has been left traumatized by the deaths of his wife and children, and hardened by how the remaining human survivors have descended into tribal systems. However, that doesn’t stop Regan’s forward-thinking curiosity, as she remains determined to venture out, find the supposed safe haven, and provide her sound device to give everyone a fighting chance.
Apocalyptic prologue notwithstanding, the sequel settles into a rhythm similar of the first film, continuing the simple act of the surviving by tiptoeing through the post-apocalyptic landscape. The array of new settings add a ton to the overall film’s atmosphere and director Krasinski utilizes some clever spots to accelerate the action and fear with insane intensity, larger set pieces, and just overall absolute action/thrills.
The sequel also continues to get a lot of mileage out of toying with horror’s deep relationship with sound, using wonderfully mixed audio to reorient the audience’s sense of peril toward everything aural, and using that threat to ratchet up the tension. Through sound, staging, and performance, scares are wrung out of silence, and the smallest bump can shock viewers with the terror of a gunshot. And with Regan’s promotion to a more central character, the suspense is heightened by the inability to hear the monsters that are creeping up behind her.
It also helps that the alien creators with vicious designs are just as frightening and potentially even more bloodthirsty this time around. The CGI used to portray them is marvelously realistic. While thrills are the main draw, the cast does tremendous work with dramatic scenes communicated in sign language. The care taken in these more intimate scenes does a lot to smooth over the ways disability is factored into the genre conceit.
Clocking in at a brisk 97 minutes, it’s a lean-and-mean thriller with a lot of heart, there is a lot I like about this film, expect a single flaw. That being the sequel feels like it was only produced to bridge the gap between the first and the still officially unannounced third film. With its dangerous-road-trip structure that works to establish a new status quo for its characters, the sequel is firing on all cylinders, with dual story lines putting our leads in serious and cleverly staged peril against aliens and humans alike, until everything comes to an abrupt halt that mirrors the first film’s original cliffhanger ending. A factor which left me a bit unsatisfied.
Nevertheless, as a director Krasinski proves once again his prowess in directing and writing is immaculate which is surprising seeing how he’s really just getting started in that realm of his career.
The cast also justice to his vision. Emily Blunt gets to shine once again, and continues to prove why she is considered such an extraordinary performer. Cillian Murphy makes for a great addition to the tale, as the underrated actor carries bulk of the film’s dramatic weight.
However, the film really belongs to Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe who really shine, effectively portraying the vulnerability and fear of kids on the verge of adolescence. In a smaller role, John Krasinski reminds us just how charming and charismatic he is. In other roles, Djimon Hounsou and Scoot McNairy don’t get much to do. On the whole, ‘A Quiet Place Part II’ is an uncommon horror sequel that matches the original in being tense, creative and entertaining.
Directed – John Krasinski
Rated – PG13
Run Time – 97 minutes