June 2, 2021
After a 14-month delay, the follow-up to 2018’s surprise hit A Quiet Place is finally being released in a place that has been all too quiet the past year: our movie theaters.
A Quiet Place Part II is another potent creature feature from writer/director John Krasinski, whose presence on screen may be reduced this time around, but his creative control behind the camera is on full display.
Horror sequels have a bad habit of overexplaining the origins of their monsters or expanding their cinematic world too quickly. Krasinski wisely avoids both of those pitfalls while matching (if not exceeding) the tension produced by his predecessor. It obviously would help to have seen A Quiet Place first before picking up with this chapter, but even audience members who go in blind shouldn’t have much trouble getting wrapped up in the film’s scares.
The first film begins on “Day 89” after Earth is overrun by terrifying creatures who hunt anything that makes noise. Part II goes back to show us the events of “Day 1” when the monsters first attack. After that extended prologue, we join Evelyn Abbott (Emily Blunt) with her newborn baby along with daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds) and son Marcus (Noah Jupe), right after the events of the first film. With their home now destroyed, the family ventures out beyond the sand path and happens upon a seemingly abandoned steel factory. There they find Emmett (Cillian Murphy), a former family friend doing his best to survive after the loss of his children and more recent loss of his wife. Together, they work together to stave off the horrifying creatures and find a way to finish them off for good.
Restraint is a rare quality among horror movies, and especially ones as highly anticipated as A Quiet Place Part II, but Krasinski has again struck a fine balance between tension and release that permeates the film’s scariest moments. He explores and makes terrific use of new spaces, venturing past the cornfields of the original to a larger world that includes Emmett’s grimy bunker and a set of abandoned train cars. Complimenting some top-notch sound design, composer Marco Beltrami returns with a spine-tingling music score that is used sparingly but effectively. There are plenty of nail-biting scenes in this lean and mean sequel, but the climax, beautifully edited by Michael P. Shawver, seamlessly weaves together three separate stories in a sequence that will leave audiences breathless.
If Krasinski’s script is light on nuance and character development, his performers make up the difference with heartfelt and beautifully lived-in performances. Blunt capably takes over the spotlight from both her real-life and fictional husband as a fierce matriarch saddled with a precious newborn but blessed with two children nearly as resourceful as she is. Simmonds is again terrific in a commanding and cunning role that properly empowers the deaf community without pandering to them. Though Murphy has appeared in plenty of Christopher Nolan’s movies, it seems like it’s been a while since he’s had a lead film role. He’s an outstanding addition to this eminently talented cast.
Like the best post-apocalyptic features, the pair of these films asks us to consider how much can be lost so quickly and to cherish the things in our lives that we may take for granted. The COVID-19 pandemic seemed destined to deal the final blow to movie theaters, but through patience and resiliency, we gather together once again. Besides someone shouting, “That’s Jim!” when Krasinski first appeared on screen, the audience at my IMAX screening was exceedingly respectful and properly enraptured by the presence of a screen alit once more. Movies allow us to sit as silent strangers in the dark who become acquainted and united with each other through light and magic.
May A Quiet Place Part II be the first of many more movies to brighten our faces amid the darkness.
New Movies Coming This Weekend
Opening in theaters and playing on HBO Max is The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, a horror movie starring Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga that continues the story of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren as they take on another terrifying case.
Playing only in theaters is Spirit Untamed, an animated adventure starring Isabela Merced and Jake Gyllenhaal about a young girl who moves from the city to a small frontier town and befriends a wild mustang named Spirit.
Available to rent on demand is Undine, a myth-based romantic fantasy starring Paula Beer and Franz Rogowski about a mermaid posing as a German historian who must kill her cheating boyfriend and return to the water.
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