By Elias Savada.
As you get wrapped up in the frenetic action inside the film’s compact, 97-minute structure, you’ll admire the thrill ride that The Quiet Place Part II is taking you on.”
Just when you thought it might finally be safe to go back to watching movies in a real, live theater – now with amazingly clean and socially distanced seating – John Krasinski is ready to send you running and screaming in terror from it with The Quiet Place Part II.
Yes, the wait is just about over as the world reopens, and the follow up installment after Kraskinski’s 2018 breakthrough horror entry, teased out over the length of the pandemic (which washed out the film’s original promotion and release in March 2020), has arrived. I know the question on your mind; can the sequel make you shit in your pants once again?
“Oh yeah,” this critic says, as he removed his Dolbyized soiled clothing and dumped them in the washing machine.
Part II picks up the day after the Abbotts had met their match with a group of aliens, with the remnant of the family venturing out from the crumbling comfort of their home. While two of the screenwriters (Scott Beck and Bryan Woods) aren’t back for round 2, Krasinski returns, picking up the sole writing reins and doing a stunning job of creating a world in chaos wreaking havoc on a very determined mother, her newborn child, and her two pushed-to-adulthood children. He fashions the foreword to his new film with an intense flashback sequence to Day 1 a.k.a Alien Arrival Day. It allows for the casual introduction of Cillian Murphy’s character, Emmett, at a local school baseball game. He’ll survive in a very different way than the Abbotts when their paths next cross. That frantic opening meet-and-greet the extraterrestrial monsters, parts of which are teased in the film’s trailers, offers the first of numerous jump-out-of-your seat scares. You might think you can steel yourself for those moments. Good luck.
Then the film returns to its familiar, uncharted territory, journey. Fans of the first film should remember that these gnarly looking space guests do not like humans making loud noises. Or any noises. If you don’t remember that (or didn’t catch the earlier effort), the film’s omnipresent diegetic sound designers will let you know that every bite of an apple, footstep on a dead leaf, whispered prayer, or any slight commotion is likely to make you squirm with giddy, gripping trepidation.
The Abbotts (Emily Blunt and her real husband Krasinski, as Evelyn and Lee) and their kids, Regan (Millicent Simmonds) and Marcus (Noah Jupe) are the first film’s central and basically only characters as they plan their survival strategies. The same cast returns, even though Lee made a heroic exit in chapter one’s waning moments. The action back then began in 2020 (when the youngest Abbott, Beau, died) and ends around 2022. The comparison to the actual virus-induced shutdown will be obvious, but totally coincidental.
While Cillian Murphy’s addition adds a strong, albeit broken, male figure into the Abbott mix, Oscar-nominated Djimon Hounsou offers some subtle heroics of his own during the film’s later nerve-rattling moments.
Jupe imbues Marcus with a frightened childhood innocence, his spirit broken by the death of his father and the looming awareness of his own mortality. While more prone to creating unfortunate circumstances for his family, he shows off the Abbott gumption as the film faces down its climactic confrontation.
Simmonds, a real deaf teen, takes on a good portion of the film’s plot and she carries her role with a robust, do-my-own-thing determination. Her resourceful Regan focuses on the foreigners’ weaknesses, expanding on the game-changing distraction deliciously discovered via her hearing-assisted device in the earlier film. She also ventures out in the hope of finding other survivors on the seemingly barely populated planet. Nothing phases her against the beasties, even if their menacing razor-sharp teeth and velociraptor claws are always on the ready to make mincemeat of Earth’s remaining souls. She wants some sweet revenge against these unwelcome guests, and. despite her challenges, Regan obviously has a future as a killer deejay.
The two siblings offer a terrific one-two combination that should send you out cheering, and possibly begging all parties concerned for further perils and enlightenment additional installments down the road, something that surprised even Krasinski, who hadn’t felt the need for a franchise. Well, not until A Quiet Place became a runaway hit. If his creative juices are as good as demonstrated in II, even if the concept isn’t new, please, please, please, bring on III, IV, and more.
The only thing that bothers me about both films is why these very unsettling creatures don’t really have an agenda other than stalking and killing people. I don’t recall ever seeing them eat anyone (or actually anything at all), so why did they land here? Hunting for sport?
As you get wrapped up in the frenetic action inside the film’s compact, 97-minute structure, you’ll admire the thrill ride that The Quiet Place Part II is taking you on. Buckle up.
Elias Savada is a movie copyright researcher, critic, craft beer geek, and avid genealogist based in Bethesda, Maryland. He helps program the Spooky Movie International Movie Film Festival, and previously reviewed for Film Threat and Nitrate Online. He is an executive producer of the horror film German Angst and the documentary Nuts! He co-authored, with David J. Skal, Dark Carnival: the Secret World of Tod Browning (a revised edition will be published by Centipede Press).