2018’s A Quiet Place put the nerves and silence of horror fans around the world to the test. Afraid to make even the slightest amount of noise, hoping it wouldn’t translate to the Abbott family meeting a sudden gory fate. We saw a family impacted by loss, both on a massive and personal scale trying to survive in a desolate world overran by terrifying, blind aliens. Director John Krasinski used sound (or lack thereof) to not only translate to a unique and anxiety-inducing experience, but one about a family you deeply cared about. The sequel was originally due to be released on March 18th, 2020, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were many delays. Much like the towns in the first movie, the world itself became an amalgamation of the catastrophic event it was enduring. Massive amounts of loss, shocks to the conventional way of life, and people having to be distant from each other.
With horror sequels, there’s always a push to go bigger. The itch to make a potential franchise sometimes overtakes the need to make a cohesive story. One that captures what made the plot and characters work so well without introducing elements that seem like oil mixing with water. A Quiet Place Part II briefly starts a few minutes before everything falls down. Where the Abbott family is enjoying a beautiful, small-town day until trouble comes. Then we see them come face to face with the alien threat for the first time in exciting continuous sequences from cinematographer Polly Morgan. From there, it transports you immediately moments after the first film. What’s left of the Abbott family picks up the pieces to search for a place of reprieve.
Having lost a husband/father in Lee (John Krasinski) and with a newborn baby, there are new challenges. Unfortunately, this is a world that doesn’t allow ample time to process grief. As they are on the move, they come across Emmett (Cillian Murphy) who was a friend of Lee and a projection of what the world has turned into. At first, he’s very hesitant in taking the family in. Emmett is haggard, hardened, and untrusting of people in the outer world. He’s lost his wife and children and is just trying to survive the days ahead.
One of the shining pillars of AQPII is the performance of Millicent Simmonds and how Regan’s character develops as the heroic heartbeat. Her mother Evelyn (Emily Blunt) still does her best to protect her three children. The film separates everyone at points and it both helps the tension and character development. Regan takes on the attitude of her father in a selfless search for survivors. In that, she teaches Emmett how to live with a bit of optimism in a bleak world. Emmett is not well versed in sign language as Regan’s family is, but it’s the enunciation and verbal cues of Murphy and Simmonds that make it work.
Regan and her brother Marcus (Noah Jupe) are in a setting where they have to grow up fast. Krasinski does a good job in the script where they have their moments to grow. The audience can tell that the bond between this family is as strong as it’s ever been, but given a new member, it adds a different type of pressure. That calls Evelyn to become a different type of provider, but also level with that she just lost her husband.
Krasinski could have added more bells and whistles to the alien threat, but it doesn’t – and that’s a superb choice. If anything, AQPII gives them more scenes to show how much they are lethal killing machines. There are brief hints at plot points that could result in another film, but they don’t feel cheap. Whether it be human communities, threats, or another weakness – it makes the audience want to know more without losing what makes A Quiet Place successful.
As a continuance of a successful film, it’s tough to both widen a world and keep the essence of what people loved from the original. The white-knuckled suspense is still present with more scenarios that will make you unconscionably nervous. The characters that you cared so much for give you more reason to while new characters fit in like a glove.
Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures