After the critical and financial success of A Quiet Place, it was inevitable that audiences would get a sequel. What we hadn’t expected, was the delay of the films release by over a year due the Covid-19 pandemic. That, very real, virus is echoed here in A Quiet Place Part II – and gives the film a timely quality that many films don’t possess. In his sequel to 2018’s smash-hit, director John Krasinski has crafted a film that ups the action, but loses none of the heart of the original.
We begin the film with a flashback. An idyllic American town sits quietly, while Lee (Krasinski) gathers snacks and water before he visits his family at their sons Little League baseball game. As we are reunited with Evelyn (Emily Blunt), Regan (Millicent Simmonds) and Marcus (Noah Jupe) we are alerted to the fact that something is wrong by the universal symbol for impending doom: dogs barking, followed by people staring at the sky & unable to finish whatever it was they were doing. In a very Steven Spielberg & War of the Worlds moment, we are soon in among the action as our heroes attempt to run and hide from the creatures we know so well from the first film. It’s a wonderful opening sequence that manages to pin down all the qualities of the first film into a 10-15 minute segment. The opening scene succeeds in showing us how the alien creatures came to earth, and the mass devastation they employ within minutes of arriving. Keeping the focus of the Abbott family fuels the chaos and paranoia surrounding these events, and gives the audience nothing more than what we see from their point of view.
Following up a successful first film can be a tricky prospect. But like some of its influences, The Terminator and Alien, A Quiet Place Part II decides for a more action-heavy approach. The tense opening propels us back into Krasinski’s world, before heading right back to where the last film left off. The Abbott’s now needing to leave their farmhouse in the hope of finding another shelter. Their path leads them to Emmett (Cillian Murphy), an old family friend – last seen at that fateful baseball game, and who Evelyn seeks help from after Regan leaves their little fortress in the hope of finding more survivors – splitting the group and the narrative in two. Hurtling back to reality, we are then presented with a scene show gut-wrenchingly painful you want to scream with the characters. But, you don’t. Because you can’t, and because they can’t, or shouldn’t, and we are immediately reminded of what an experience the first film was. Not daring to move, or utter a single word – because we as the audience are there too, and as the film progresses we share each moment with the cast – willing them to make it to the end of the films one hour and 37 minute runtime.
It seems almost unfair to find any criticism in what is mine, and maybe many others, first film back at the cinema. We have waited a long time for this moment, but it would not be right if the films, few, flaws were not mentioned. Cillian Murphy’s mentioning of the other threats the world now offers are not built upon enough, even though one dock-side scene more than makes up for it. Also, the dual storytelling as our group is split in two can become a little jarring. And yet, the point may be to do so. Because for all the little bits that infuriate, it feels like they lead to something bigger and an ending that wants you to feel like the cast are growing and earning their moments. It’s not perfect, and is perhaps not as tense or as scary as the first. But, A Quiet Place Part II still succeeds. Cillian Murphy’s addition to the film is a hit, and Millicent Simmonds remains the best part about each of these films. Emily Blunt and Noah Jupe are a little side-lined, as the main story does not revolve around them and Jupe, talented as he is, has the unenviable role of the annoying screaming child.
A Quiet Place Part II works more than it doesn’t. And even though it leans more toward action than horror, it still remains a tension filled display of how to handle a sequel and not disappoint fans of the original.
A Quiet Place Part II will be released in U.K. cinemas on 3 June.