Wondering what will bring people back to the movie theater? Look no further than A Quiet Place Part II, a pulse-pounding, heart-stopping (yes, it’s both), sweat-inducing monster movie from no other than mild-mannered actor/writer/director John Krasinski. Yes, Jim from The Office is now scaring the living daylights out of you, and boy, is he good at it.
The first A Quiet Place film, released in 2018, was huge, made a ton of money and assured a sequel. The only problem with a sequel to that film is the “hero,” Krasinski’s character, was killed off at the end of the movie. Well, A Quiet Place Part II doesn’t miss a beat, assuredly carrying on, something that’s easy to do when you have Emily Blunt in the cast.
In case you don’t know or need a refresher, A Quiet Place introduced us to the Abbott family, made up of parents Evelyn and Lee, played by Krasinski and Blunt, teenage daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds) and sons Marcus (Noah Jupe) and Beau (Cade Woodward). The Abbotts have survived some sort of attack that has decimated earth’s population, leaving them to fend for themselves in a remote farmhouse in the country. We quickly learn that what attacked them were ferocious alien monsters who are fast, big and deadly. The Abbotts have survived so far, a year after the attack, because they discovered the one weakness the monsters have: they are blind. But, where there is a weakness, a strength develops, so, to make up for their blindness, the monsters have precision hearing, so the Abbotts have learned to live as quietly as possible, knowing the slightest sound will trigger an attack. Because Regan is deaf, the family knows American Sign Language, so they are able to communicate with each other non-verbally, which also greatly contributes to their survival.
The sequel picks up their story after the harrowing finale of the first film, in which Lee sacrifices himself in order to draw the monsters away from his family as their farmhouse burns. Oh, I forgot to mention that youngest son Beau was also killed in the first film, AND Evelyn gave birth to a baby. Yes, she gave birth and brought a newborn into a world where the slightest sound can get you killed–don’t get me started. So this is where we begin in the sequel, but not before we get an opening sequence that takes us back to the day the attack started, a beautiful day in small town America that quickly becomes a nightmarish scene of devastation and mass hysteria, as the town is bombarded with giant, long-legged monsters, capable of tossing cars aside and moving at breakneck speed.
The beauty of the opening sequence is the audience gets to see the day the devastation started, plus we get to see Lee again, giving Krasinski a chance to be on screen, albeit for a short period. But it also introduces us to Emmett, played by Cillian Murphy, a friend of the family who will play a key role later on.
Other than the introduction of a new character in Emmett, A Quiet Place Part II is pretty much what you would expect it to be: a constant flood of jump-scares, monster encounters and set pieces that put our heroes in danger in every imaginable way. You know if this movie is your cup of tea, and, if it is, you will be loving every big gulp. The action sequences are brilliant, the monsters effectively nightmare-inducing, and the thrill-a-minute ride one that any lover of action movies will undoubtedly want to take again and again.
The only problem is Krasinski, who also wrote the film, doesn’t find any way to break new ground. Besides adding Murphy to the cast, the second film is just more of the same, but, this time, the family is forced to flee and try to find a new place to seek shelter. So, as our heroes wander the countryside of a post-apocalyptic world, looking for safety while trying to avoid any fatal encounters with the killer alien beasts, A Quiet Place Part II ends up feeling like not much more than an episode of The Walking Dead. Another beef I have with it is that, even though having a baby in this situation amps up the thrill and chill factor for the audience—that baby is going to cry at any moment!—it also ends up neutralizing Evelyn as a fighter, because she is responsible for keeping her baby alive. Her two kids are old enough to look after themselves, for the most part—again, don’t get me started—but the baby needs constant supervision, and this forces Blunt to the sidelines, which is the biggest drawback of this film. When Lee was killed, it seemed the perfect opportunity to have Evelyn step in as the head of the family. But in sidelining Evelyn and bringing in Emmett as the new father figure (read: protector), it was impossible to not be both insulted and massively disappointed in the missed opportunity and the short-sighted laziness of having the strong, white male play the hero. Again.
But, still, A Quiet Place Part II is a rollicking good time. Millicent Simmonds steals the show AGAIN, and Noah Jupe will make you literally scream at the screen in frustration, but it’s all part of an exceedingly well-constructed mild horror film (if I can handle it, so can you) with thrills galore. If this doesn’t get people back to the movies, I’m not sure what will.