Movie Review: ‘A Quiet Place Part II’
Plot: Picking up mere minutes after the last film, A Quiet Place Part II continues the story of the Abbott family in the wake of patriarch Lee’s (John Krasinski) death. Armed with the knowledge to finally kill the creatures that have infested Earth, matriarch Evelyn (Emily Blunt), her infant son, and children Regan (Millicent Simmonds) and Marcus (Noah Jupe) make the difficult decision to leave their family home. Upon finding friend Emmett (Cillian Murphy) the Abbotts realize that others have managed to survive. However, the society they once knew has degenerated into a survivalist apocalyptic nightmare, where the humans who are left are just as dangerous as the monsters that hunt them.
Review: When director John Krasinski’s film A Quiet Place premiered three years ago, it was a massive financial hit and lauded by both audiences and critics. Like all great horror films, the setup – mysterious blind creatures that attack based on the smallest sound and wipe out most of humanity – is just a jumping off point for something larger. The film actually explores the concept of parenthood. More specifically how parents do their best to protect their children from the pain of the world, and ultimately how fruitless that endeavor is.
What sets A Quiet Place Part II apart from other sequels, is that it in no way feels like a sequel. Rather the second film comes off as a natural continuation, almost an extension of the first. Krasinski (who takes over sole writing duties this go round as well as directing) I believe consciously made this decision and with excellent results.
Every great horror film demands an opening scene that hooks you and gets you invested. A Quiet Place Part II is no exception. Reminiscent of 28 Weeks Later, Part II’s opening flashback scene builds mercilessly from a sense of pervasive dread to an all out nightmare, as we see the creatures descend from the heavens to ravage the Abbott’s home town. The fact that Krasinski chooses this to take place at his son’s baseball game is inspired. The creatures literally tear asunder the institutions of society writ small in a matter of minutes. It provides some clarity to the ambiguous nature of the creatures outlined in the last film, without any unnecessary exposition. In a true directorial power move, Krasinski is content to let the visuals speak for themselves. Polly Morgan’s cinematography is nothing short of spectacular and fully realizes John Krasinski’s vison. It’s further complimented by Marco Beltrami’s anxiety inducing score.
From there A Quiet Place Part II’s scares become increasingly nuanced. Indeed, as fantastic as some of the more action-packed moments are (particularly in the third act), I was often struck by the subtlety of this film’s scares. Whether it’s the eerie silence of the Marina People, or the quiet “Thwack!” of a listless boat that forebodes destruction, there’s a plethora of scares throughout. Yet just like the first movie, the pervasive sense of dread permeates the entire film, to excellent effect. It’s truly a testament to the talent of Krasinski as a director.
Yet ultimately, the saga of the Abbotts focuses on how a worldwide apocalyptic event affects one single family. It gives the story a personal touch, and Krasinski rightly chooses to focus on that. However, whereas the first film was self-contained to the Abbott farm, the second showcases how much the outside world has changed. This is exemplified by Cillian Murphy’s Emmett, a welcome addition to the franchise. An old friend, he has now morphed into a hardened, reclusive survivor, reluctant to help the Abbotts. Emmett has given up on the world. As he says early on, the people that are left “aren’t worth saving.” His statement resonates beautifully in a particularly harrowing scene involving actor Scoot McNairy later in the film.
Despite his trepidation, Emmett gains hope from Regan who is determined to spread the news of the creatures’ weakness to the masses by seeking out a radio station. Once again Millicent Simmonds knocks it out of the park with her performance as Regan. If anything, she’s gotten better as her character becomes more nuanced. She fundamentally believes in the choice she’s making despite her mother’s objections. Regan is determined not to let her father’s death be in vain.
This is a fundamental difference between her and Marcus who still struggles with his own fear and self-doubt throughout the movie. (Incidentally, there’s a horrific scene involving Marcus that puts the nail scene from the first movie to shame.) Marcus believes just as strongly that Regan will die like their father and it isn’t worth it. What’s ultimately fascinating is how both Marcus and Regan evolve throughout the course of A Quiet Place Part II and gain an appreciation for each other’s perspectives and their parents.
Speaking of parents, Emily Blunt’s performance is once again brilliant in A Quiet Place Part II. I firmly believe she was robbed of an Oscar nomination two years ago, and her work in this film is just as good if not better. Not only does she have to navigate the grief of the loss of her husband, she’s charged with protecting her children in a violent and terrifying world that they have no choice but to venture out into. Yet even amid overwhelming circumstances Evelyn somehow manages to evolve, learning to trust her children. Indeed, Krasinski’s screenwriting abilities shine through once again. A Quiet Place Part II is also a commentary on parenthood. However, whereas the first film focuses on protecting your children, this second installment centers around trusting that you’ve done a good enough job as a parent that your children will make good choices and be able to stand on their own two feet.
Ultimately, A Quiet Place Part II proves three things. John Krasinski is a force to be reckoned with both as a writer and a director. Emily Blunt forever needs to be in the discussion as being in the top tier for modern actresses. Lastly, as long as Platinum Dunes keeps producing these films I’ll keep watching them.*
*Incidentally, it was 503 days between my last excursion to the theater and seeing A Quiet Place Part II. I couldn’t have asked for a better movie to return to the cinema!
My rating System:
1 God Awful Blind Yourself With Acid Bad
2 Straight Garbage
4 Sub Par
8 Very Good
10 A Must See
A Quiet Place Part II rates: 9/10