A Quiet Place Part II, 2021.
Directed by John Krasinski.
Starring Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, Cillian Murphy and Djimon Hounsou.
After the events of the first film, the Abbott family join forces with another survivor as they attempt to evade the sound-focused monsters rampaging across the planet.
A Quiet Place was a lot of things. When the movie arrived in 2018, it blew the doors off the box office with a $340m global haul and joined the blockbuster horror club previously populated almost exclusively by James Wan and his Conjuring franchise. It introduced comedy actor John Krasinski as a directorial force and almost certainly became the best film ever to feature Michael Bay’s name in the credits. A year after it was first due to premiere – a non-monster-based global catastrophe got in the way – Krasinski is back behind the camera for a sequel, which seeks to gently expand the canvas of a world in which the slightest noise might be the last one you ever make.
After an energetic, intense flashback to the first day of the monster invasion, the action picks up immediately after the final moments of the previous movie. Evelyn (Emily Blunt) and her children Regan (Millicent Simmonds) and Marcus (Noah Jupe) have discovered the weakness of the creatures – the amplified feedback from Regan’s hearing aid. In search of sanctuary and support – not least given the recent birth of a very noisy infant – they travel to the hideout of a fellow survivor (Cillian Murphy) in the hope that he might be able to help.
The most obvious comparison point here is between Alien and Aliens. While much of the first film featured just one or two of the monsters and focused on a single location, Krasinski’s follow-up keeps the beasties coming and spans multiple locales and different story threads. The comparison with James Cameron’s movie, however, is an unfair one that neglects the differences between the two films. While Cameron largely eschewed the horror trappings for militaristic, bombastic action spectacle, Krasinski – with sole writing credit this time around – aims to expand the scope of the story while maintaining the small-scale, tense feel. For the most part, he succeeds.
Certainly, the prologue is an all-out blast of anarchy, showcasing the panic and chaos of the day the creatures arrived, with Krasinski reprising his role as the tragic patriarch of the Abbott clan. There’s a joy to seeing the monsters – impressively rendered in stark daylight by the geniuses at ILM – in full flow, conveying the swift brutality that allowed them to immediately force humanity into hiding. It’s a thrilling action set piece and one of several the movie conjures, spotlighting the danger presented by a single one of these creatures. The temptation would be to depict dozens of rampaging beasties, but Krasinski resists. The scale might be bigger, but the sense of individual peril never dissipates as a result.
The performances help, with Noah Jupe and Millicent Simmonds particularly excelling as the young people whose will to triumph is as big as their will to survive. While the likes of Blunt and Murphy’s characters are laser-focused on avoiding mutilation at the creature’s hands, it’s the teenagers who have an eye on the long-term. An intentional nod to the likes of Greta Thunberg and other young climate activists advocating for change? Either way, it’s a neat thread to connect.
Simmonds is very much the movie’s MVP, conveying fearsome emotion and defiance despite the fact she communicates almost exclusively in American Sign Language. It’s her intensity and humanity which holds the movie together, especially given the potential for second-half cross-cutting between multiple threads to minimise the building tension. While there are some occasions in which Krasinski’s decision to split the cast enhances the sense of jeopardy, it often causes the pacing to stumble. It’s perhaps a case of ambition exceeding execution.
But the joy of A Quiet Place Part II, as with its predecessor, is that it’s cinematic terror of the purest kind. Krasinski’s universe is built on tense horror spectacle that is absolutely made for the big screen, with Marco Beltrami’s carefully deployed musical score and the immaculate sound design combining to utilise every decibel of the multiplex sound system in order to extract every last drop of fear. While this sequel sacrifices some of its full-blooded fear factor for spectacle, the movie knows exactly how to go bump in the night – and, crucially, in the light of day as well.
The first Quiet Place film was a laser-focused journey into madness and this sequel occasionally lacks the precision that made its predecessor so compelling. The introductions of other groups of survivors – some more compassionate than others – are fumbled and don’t make the impact they should. This series is best when it grounds its high-concept in the people experiencing the chilling precarity of its world, rather than attempting to make a broader point about how human nature is affected by the desperate need for survival. With at least one spin-off announced, perhaps there’s more room to explore the broader world outside of the main chronology.
But this is still very enjoyable multiplex material, joining The Conjuring and its bedfellows in the latest era of blockbuster horror entertainment. As a calling card to bring people back to cinemas, it’s a real statement of intent. The movies are back – and they’re bloody terrifying.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Tom Beasley is a freelance film journalist and wrestling fan. Follow him on Twitter via @TomJBeasley for movie opinions, wrestling stuff and puns.