For many, arguably most, A Quiet Place was a surprise hit. Not only was the film a box office smash, it aced it with both audiences and critics, its character-driven drama and expertly crafted horror sequences balanced perfectly. As both director and co-star, The Office alum John Krasinski presented serious skill, and the film was the perfect vehicle to showcase the acting prowess of fellow leads Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe. Unsurprisingly, a sequel was soon in the works. Trepidation with a sequel? Naturally. Thankfully, Krasinski, back at the helm and this time working with his own screenplay, has done it again.
The film kicks off with a cracking flashback to Day 1 – the day that the sonic-sensitive aliens landed on Earth. Playing out like a fantastic standalone short film, the extended sequence gives us quick a look at the Abbott family and the world pre invasion; a baseball match reminds us of the simple things, no more now that the world has been overrun by these horrifying creatures. When the aliens land, Krasinski and co. crank up the tension and shake you quickly; throwing us right back in with same type of filmmaking confidence delivered in the first film. It’s as though we only stepped away for a quick ad break.
I’ll leave the sequel’s plot details as untouched as I can, suffice it to say that the film reunites us with the remaining Abbotts, steps out into the wider world, and the children are pushed to the forefront in what feels like a natural and well-earned way. The major addition to the cast is Cillian Murphy, just great as Emmett. Carrying the pain of loss and with distrust fuelled by what he has experienced, Emmett comes with strong emotional weight, and his character’s satisfying arc is driven home by Murphy, who gives the screen another seemingly effortless portrayal.
Of course, Blunt again brings gravitas to Evelyn, keeping a complete meltdown at bay with an internal strength and drive to protect her three children – one of whom is but a baby (again used to effectively ramp up that suspense). Jupe continues to prove himself a standout young actor, but it’s perhaps Simmonds as Regan who’s given the most to do – and she absolutely nails it. As with the first film, the character’s deafness is used effectively to not only provide layers to the film and the characterisation, but to drive several anxiety-inducing moments. Simmonds, deaf in real life, plays a big hand in taking us along for the ride. The character’s journey – and how it relates to the first film – is wonderful.
The family dynamic drove much of the film’s emotional throughline – and if there’s anything that isn’t quite on par here, it’s that. That is not to say that the character beats in the sequel aren’t effective – they really are – it’s that the emotional gut-punch that came with the chapter one’s final act doesn’t hit on the same level. It is still quite satisfying, to be clear, although perhaps on a lighter note.
What is on par, is the high tension and the firm grasp that Krasinski and his team have with their set pieces. The sound design is, once again, exemplary, and pivotal in having you grabbing those arm rests as tight as possible. The visual effects, editing (Creed and Black Panther editor Michael P. Shawver), cinematography (Legion and Lucy in the Sky cinematographer Polly Morgan) – all departments on point to craft an effective cinema experience. The monsters remain unnerving and terrifying.
A Quiet Place Part II expands on the first film nicely and, importantly, unfolds in controlled fashion. Krasinski skirts the Hollywood trend to simply go bigger and louder with the sequel, and instead confidently introduces us to slices of the wider world while keeping the story firmly character driven, and still intimate. Bring on Part III.
‘A Quiet Place Part II’ opened in Australian cinemas on May 27th and US cinemas on May 28th.