A QUIET PLACE PART II Review
Well folks, it took about a year and a few months but your amateur film reviewer finally got his ass back in those comfy, warm theater seats! As everyone is very much aware, the last year hasn’t been easy for anyone (except probably The Rich) but if there’s one thing I’m happy to see survive this pandemic, it was movie theaters. To my disappointment and to probably the joys of other people in that theater, I didn’t have a visible emotional breakdown as I walked back into the dark cove that would soon bring me back to my rightful home. So what better way to get back into the swing of movie theater things than watching a sequel that in more ideal times would make for the perfect theater viewing experience?
A QUIET PLACE PART II, the sequel to the surprise smash hit from director/writer/actor, John Krasinski, once more follows the journey of the protagonists of the first film, the remaining members of the Abbott family. But before setting off on that journey to the world outside their recently destroyed Instagram-friendly family farm, Krasinski (taking over full writing duties here) opens the film with a standout intro sequence that flashes back to the beginning moments of the invasion of the sound-hating E.T.’s. Throughout this entire sequence (and other, smaller scale sequences that will follow), Krasinski, the director, shows off his growing talent at creating action sequences that thrill and entertain in a way that feels dare I say, Spielberg-like. The action is fluid and frantic yet always under control with character and monster placement in clear view. Where plot concerns regarding the logistics of this alien invasion may arise, Krasinski simply overcomes them by covering it up with white-knuckle thrills. After that standout sequence, the rest of the film follows the Abbott’s in their current predicament as they look for a new place of refuge. Throughout this journey, A QUIET PLACE PART II never really builds off anything from the first film, outside of introducing a few new characters (notably, Cillian Murphy’s rough and traumatized survivalist, Emmett) and other nuggets of world-building that are as fleet as the aliens themselves.
The name of the game here, narratively speaking, is straight up survival as Evelyn (Emily Blunt), Marcus (Noah Jupe), Regan (Millicent Simmonds), and their baby sister simply go through the film looking for a new (assumedly quiet) place to call home. Outside of learning about the alien’s weakness to high pitched sounds and taking advantage of it, the characters themselves remain the same from the first entry: Evelyn is simply trying to protect her kids, Regan is stubbornly looking for the best chances of beating the aliens, and Marcus is almost always a near-nervous wreck, and the baby is still a plot device waiting to create tense moments with its crying and general baby-ness. Even when they come across the at-first cold Emmett, a former acquaintance of the family in the “before times”, not much interesting goes on with these characters in terms of development. Not to say that the performers, especially the always impressive Mr. Jupe (who puts in one of the all time “screams of pain” performances in one particularly stressful sequence) and Ms. Simmonds, don’t bring their A-game. While it’s a little disappointing Blunt and Jupe get sidelined for a majority of the movie, the burgeoning relationship that builds between Simmonds and Murphy as they strike out to find a boat to escape to an island does enough to add a bit of emotional tethering to the audience. Once more, Simmonds excels with showing her character’s range of emotions through her volatile facial expressions and physical movements which meshes well with Murphy’s own impressive physical performance as a lost and lonely man given a new chance at life through the Abbotts. These performers never quite escape the apocalypse archetypes they inhibit but they also never succumb to them either.
As mentioned, a lot of A QUIET PLACE PART II is essentially a replay of the hits of the first film, and to a refreshing degree, the film doesn’t really go the route of “bigger is better” in relation to other horror sequels. In this film, Krasinski simply details the simple journey of the characters needing to get to one area or another while facing off against monsters every now and then and in those moments where our crackling aliens show up, Krasinski once more shows off his gleeful approach to building tension in a world where making noise equals death. While the pattern of “enter a new area, make everything quiet, then jump scare” becomes apparent (as it did in the first film), the filmmaker and his crew nonetheless do a solid job at making sure those moments are at least entertaining in a “carnival haunted house” kind of way. Granted, as I had with the first entry, I found it to be a missed opportunity for this franchise to not fully commit to the “no-noise” schtick thanks in part to its inclusion of a finely foreboding, but intrusive score. Nevertheless, there are more than a handful of moments where Krasinski, working with cinematographer Polly Morgan, pulls some beautiful shots into this film, particularly in instances where the filmmaker merges horrific images under the beauty of the natural day or dusk.
As a whole, A QUIET PLACE PART II feels less like a sequel and more like a B-story given the feature length treatment without any hint of showing how this series may play out (indeed, I really don’t know where the film can go from here based on these two entries). There are moments and vague characters that arrive to hint at grander ideas taking place in the world (even if those mentioned moments and characters aren’t wholly original to the genre anyway) but in the end, this sequel is content to move at a very familiar pace to the first one. Not that that’s a bad thing as the first entry in this series is pretty solid. Other than that, if you’re coming into this sequel with hopes and dreams of seeing an entry that flips the series (or even continues it in any meaningful way), you might be quietly disappointed.