After the events of the first film, the Abbott family teams up with another survivor to avoid the sound focused monsters raging across the planet.
A quiet place was a lot of things. When the film arrived in 2018, it busted the box office doors with a worldwide profit of $ 340 million and joined the blockbuster horror club that was previously populated almost entirely by James Wan and his Conjuring franchise. It introduced comedy actor John Krasinski as a director and it was almost certain to become the best movie to have Michael Bay featured in the credits. A year after the premiere – a non-monster-based global catastrophe that got in the way – Krasinski is back behind the camera for a sequel that tries to gently expand the canvas of a world where the slightest sound can be heard last one you ever did.
After a vigorous, intense look back at the first day of the monster invasion, the action begins immediately after the final moments of the previous film. Evelyn (Emily Blunt) and her children Regan (Millicent Simmonds) and Marcus (Noah Jupe) discovered the creatures’ weakness – the increased feedback from Regan’s hearing aid. In search of refuge and support – not least in the face of the recent birth of a very noisy child – they travel to the hiding place of a fellow survivor (Cillian Murphy) in the hope that he can help.
The most obvious point of comparison here is between Alien and Aliens. While much of the first film only showed one or two of the monsters and was concentrated in a single location, Krasinski’s follow-up keeps the beasts on their toes, spanning multiple locations and different story threads. However, the comparison with James Cameron’s film is unfair and neglects the differences between the two films. While Cameron largely avoided the horror attacks for a militaristic, bombastic action spectacle, Krasinski aims – this time with sole written credit – 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 explosion of anarchy that depicts the panic and chaos of the day the creatures arrived. Krasinski repeated his role as the tragic patriarch of the Abbott clan. It is a pleasure to see the monsters, impressively reproduced by the geniuses at ILM in strong daylight, and to convey the rapid brutality that enabled them to instantly force humanity to hide. It’s a thrilling action set piece and one of several that the film conjures up and sheds light on the danger posed by any one of these creatures. The temptation would be to depict dozens of angry beasts, but Krasinski resists. The scale may be larger, but it never dissolves the feeling of individual danger.
The performances help, with Noah Jupe and Millicent Simmonds particularly prominent as the young people whose will to triumph is as great as their will to survive. While the characters of Blunt and Murphy focus on avoiding mutilation from the creature’s hands, it’s the teenagers who keep an eye out for the long term. A deliberate reference to Greta Thunberg and other young climate activists who advocate change? Either way, it’s a decent thread to connect.
Simmonds is largely the movie’s MVP and conveys terrifying emotion and defiance, despite communicating almost entirely in American sign language. It’s her intensity and humanity that hold the film together, especially given the potential to cut multiple threads in the second half to minimize building tension. While there are some instances where Krasinski’s decision to split the cast adds to the feeling of endangerment, it often results in the tempo stumbling. It is perhaps an ambition that goes beyond the execution.
But the joy of A Quiet Place Part II is, like its predecessor, that it is cinematic terror of the purest kind. Krasinski’s universe is based on a tense horror spectacle that is absolutely made for the big screen. Marco Beltrami’s carefully used score and flawless sound design use every decibel of the multiplex sound system to extract the last drop of fear. While this sequel sacrifices some of its full-blooded fear factor for the spectacle, the film knows exactly how to bump in the night – and especially in the light of day.
The first Quiet Place film was a laser-focused journey into the Insane, and this sequel occasionally lacks the precision that made its predecessor so compelling. Introducing other groups of survivors – some more compassionate than others – is fiddled and does not have the effect it should have. This series is best suited when basing its high concept on the people experiencing the daunting precariousness of their world, rather than trying to make a broader point about how human nature is influenced by the desperate need to survive. With at least one spin-off announced, there may be more room to explore the wider world outside of the main chronology.
But this is still very entertaining multiplexed material to be found in The Conjuring and his bedmates in the joins the latest era of blockbuster horror entertainment. As a calling card to get people back into theaters, this is a real statement of intent. The films are back – and they’re fucking terrifying.
Tom Beasley is a freelance film journalist and wrestling fanatic. Follow him on Twitter via @TomJBeasley for movie opinions, wrestling stuff and puns.
Filed under: Movies, Reviews, Tom Beasley Tagged: A Quiet Place, A Quiet Place Part II, Cillian Murphy, Djimon Hounsou, Emily Blunt, Horror, John Krasinski, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe
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