A Quiet Place Part II (15)
Review: Dave Stephens
How do you follow up on one of the most beloved and well-executed horror-suspense films of the last three years? That was the conundrum handed to John Krasinski and Paramount Pictures when A Quiet Place stormed cinemas in 2018 to much critical and financial praise. Despite being a PG-13 horror, being directed by Jim from The Office, starring his wife (Emily Blunt), and having a plot that initially sounded like a duff episode from The Twilight Zone, it was an unmitigated success… and brilliant. But what to do when you’ve lost some of the cast and ended the first film on a solid (and hopeful) note. It turns out that the answer is just to keep going. Krasinski is back directing, and all the surviving actors reprise their roles from the first film, including Blunt.
It starts with a breath-taking prologue that re-introduces the Abbott family and presents the first glimpse of Emmett (Cillian Murphy). It shows the world minutes before the creatures “arrived”, and everything turned to poop. (Watch out for a cameo by that pesky toy space shuttle from “Part I”). After the chaotic shenanigans of “Day 1”, the story returns us to the closing shot of the first film, with Evelyn (Blunt) pumping a shotgun. The family (including Millicent Simmonds as Regan and Noah Jupe as Marcus) are forced to move on from their retreat after everything that has happened. But they leave with the equipment and knowledge for a sonic “weapon” that makes the cranky creatures vulnerable. It’s not long before they have cause to use it and run into trouble, as well as a reclusive Emmett who is reluctant to help or shelter them. However, Regan is driven by her father’s humanistic values to share her “weapon” with other survivors. This leads to some dramatic incidents…
You could argue (and many people did) that the story arc of A Quiet Place was sufficient as it stood. Luckily, Krasinski (and Blunt) were tempted back by the potential of the world that they created, and happily, it was with good cause. AQP2 does all the things a good sequel should; it expands the mythos, evolves the characters, and takes the narrative in interesting directions. It manages to retain the heart and hope of the original whilst considerably upping the tension and action. Seriously. A LOT of people bite the dust in this one. Seeing as the opening scene of AQP1 offed a four-year-old child, you know that nothing should be taken for granted. Krasinski has resisted the urge to turn in a bloated continuation or dwell on any mawkishness. This is a tight and tension-packed excursion that makes full use of the creatures. Although we’ve seen them in their full glory by now, the Venom + Cloverfield critters have lost none of their savagery or creepiness. Expect expertly timed jump-scares aplenty.
Another nice aspect is the “promotion” of the younger characters to the forefront of the narrative. Simmonds, in particular, is given a lot more to do and excels in her portrayal and performance. In common with the humanist themes that run through the plot, we are almost witnessing a coming-of-age story for Regan and Marcus as they become the next generation of monster-killers and adapt to the new world order. The story also underlines that selfish scumbags in an apocalypse will generally get what’s coming to them. Also, much kudos should be given to the director for his pacing and editing during at least two major sequences during the movie. Two to three plot threads are switched between continuously as the tension ramps up significantly. It’s really, really good genre filmmaking, and Krasinski deserves a shot at other horror projects or big-budget thrillers given by what he accomplishes here. Even William Friedkin praised it on social media!
If you liked the first film, there’s little reason that you won’t fall for this one as well. It’s simply a top-notch sequel, and it’s already clocked up close to $100m in the worldwide box office, so it’s not just us. Perhaps the world could have been opened up a little more, and some of the character’s decisions are… questionable, to say the least. But that’s nit-picking. It’s one of those films that speeds through its running time and leaves you wanting more. If that’s not a worthy recommendation, we don’t know what is. See it on the big screen and see it soon. We’re looking forward to more instalments. “Quiet” an achievement, to be sure…