After a brief hiatus, the blog is back with a review by Alexander Hancock of Krasinski’s sequel to his successful 2018 horror blockbuster!
It all starts on a bright summer day, in a small, quintessential American town. Billowing flags line the high street, lush trees dot the green fields and at the centre of the town, a boys’ baseball match commences. But despite the warm weather and the blue skies, the cheerful laughter and excited spectators, a sense of foreboding permeates the setting – it all seems too good to be true. Five minutes later and these suspicions are confirmed – in striking fashion. What was once a sleepy town, becomes a scene of chaos and destruction, decimated by unearthly creatures.
Any doubts that the return to cinemas would fail to live up to the hype from the past couple of months are instantly shattered in this thrilling and heart-racing follow-up to 2018’s breakout film, A Quiet Place. John Krasinski, the director, manages to repeat the visceral tension and frantic energy of its predecessor, by crafting an original and propulsive story that picks up right where we left off. The opening sequence, in particular, is like a pure shot of adrenaline. As the protagonists hide amongst strangers in the back of an old bar, with the creatures prowling outside waiting to hear the faintest sound, you can feel your body stiffen, lest you let out a single breath.
A Quiet Place Part II follows the Abbott family as they learn to cope with the gaping hole left by Lee’s (John Krasinski) death. Parting ways with their old farmhouse, the family ventures outside to look for any sign of civilisation. Trekking through the overgrown landscape, the trail of sand that they’ve set up to muffle the sound of their bare feet crunching against the rocky path ends: an indication that the relative comfort and safety of their old life is gone. After narrowly escaping the creatures and navigating through unpredictable terrain, the family stumbles across what they think is a deserted factory: that is until they find Emmett (Cillian Murphy), an old family friend and lone survivor whose underground bunker acts as a temporary escape from the nightmare of the outdoors. A recluse, devastated by the loss of his family, Emmett’s acute awareness of the dire state of the world that lies beyond the Abbott’s old home, destroys any ounce of hope the family once had. “There’s nothing left,” he tells them.
Meanwhile, searching through radio stations, Regan (Millicent Simmonds) discovers what she thinks is a communication signal from a group of survivors. Determined to save her family and carry the torch of her father’s legacy, Regan leaves the bunker behind to travel by her lonesome in search of help. What she finds is beyond anyone’s wildest imagination.
One of the film’s greatest strengths – and perhaps its greatest gamble – is that it doesn’t rest on the laurels of its predecessor. While the long stretches of agonising silence that pervaded the first film are front and centre here, Krasinski offers other menacing threats like distrustful strangers whose alliances are never really clear and dangerous environments as well. One scene, in particular, cleverly plays on the dangers of the sealed underground bunker, where oxygen levels deplete when the structure is closed for too long. The tension that Krasinski builds steadily throughout the film is masterfully executed and delivers a viewing experience unlike any other; the movie flies through its 1 hour and 37 minutes running time, every second and every frame filled with palpable suspense.
Cillian Murphy is a fantastic addition to the film as the enigmatic Emmett. Fractured by the death of his wife and children, the tragedies that Emmett has experienced make it difficult not to sympathise with him, and yet one can’t help thinking that there’s something profoundly wrong with his character. The weeks of isolation that he’s spent alone in his bunker have clearly taken a toll on his sanity and his refusal to respond to the Abbott’s previous distress signals raises suspicions surrounding whether or not he can be trusted. Murphy depicts the complexity of Emmett’s character astutely and captures the hardship of grief and despair skilfully. But the real star of the movie is Simmonds, who delivers an emotional and sympathetic performance that carries the film from start to finish. Her ability to convey an array of different emotions in a single look is just as impressive as her nuanced portrayal of a young girl still grappling with the loss of her father.
Krasinski takes a risk with A Quiet Place Part II by expanding the film’s universe and answering some of the questions that circulated around the first movie like where the aliens came from and how many others survived. But unlike other sequels, whose scope oftentimes becomes so broad they lose sight of the emotional acuity of the story, Krasinski’s focus on the struggles of staying alive in a world void of hope is unwavering. The quieter moments between Evelyn (Emily Blunt) and her children are equally as moving in this film and help drive home the central message of the story: a parent’s unrelenting devotion to protecting their children in a world where all morality is lost. A Quiet Place Part II is a perfect example that bigger isn’t necessarily better.
Built around the importance of family in times of struggle, A Quiet Place Part II is an impressive follow-up to the success of its predecessor and solidifies Kransinski’s position as a talented writer and director. The gripping plot of this film, coupled with Kraskinski’s innovative storytelling, make this sequel just as immersive and enthralling as the original. Though the narrative focus becomes somewhat muddled in the final act, a compelling twist brings up more questions than answers, whilst setting the film up for a potential third installment. More than anything, this film is a welcome reminder that for all of the wonders of the streaming world, the excitement of sitting amongst a crowd of strangers in front of the big screen still remains unparalleled.