By Christian DiMartino
John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place Part II is an expertly crafted thriller that sinks its hooks into you right off the bat and doesn’t let you go for the entirety of its brisk, thrilling 97 minute runtime. Here is a film that plays its audience like a fiddle, but that’s meant in the best way: it’s the way Krasinski intended it to be.
Krasinski was essentially the star of the first film, which was a smash hit on a low budget. He mostly, despite the opening sequence, sits this one out, which if you’ve seen the first film makes total sense. Yet he does serve as a writer and director, and let’s just say that his presence is still noticeable. It’s clear that he really wants this film to be seen the way that it’s intended to be seen: on the big screen, with a crowd. There is a reason for this, and if you saw the first film, you know why, and why this film works as well as it does.
A Quiet Place was a good little thriller, and an effective one. The premise, if you live under a rock, followed a portion of the United States that has been overtaken by aliens. The deal with these aliens is that, while they’re blind, they do have incredible hearing, and often times making even the slightest sound will send them charging after you. So for those who haven’t been mauled by these things, the only way to survive is to avoid making a sound. A Quiet Place Part II works just as well as its predecessor, if not more, and for the same reasons. The film’s protagonists are forced to live in silence, and thus, so is the audience.
The screening I attended of A Quiet Place Part II only had about 7 people total in the theatre… and it still worked wonders. Chewing your popcorn, breathing, whispering, clearing your throat, etc. are at your own peril while watching these films, and Krasinski captures it all so beautifully, you could hear a pin drop. That, and when the jump scares occur, they scare the hell out of you. A Quiet Place Part II is a masterclass of suspenseful filmmaking and sound design. Oh, and it’s mighty entertainment.
After a sensational opening sequence- a terrifying prologue that takes us back to the moment the aliens arrived, A Quiet Place Part II picks up right where A Quiet Place left off, with the remaining members of the Abbott family (Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, and the baby) discovering a way to defeat the aliens, via sound frequency and hearing aid. With this valuable information, they set off to try to defeat them.
Along the way, they come across an old friend from town, Emmett (Cillian Murphy) who has suffered a great loss and is essentially a shut in, but has his own survival methods. He wants the family to scram and leave him be, but he finds himself caught up in them once the daughter, Regan (Simmonds) detects a clue on the radio, with the hope that said clue might be another part of the country that has found peace and distance from the aliens.
A Quiet Place Part II has some really terrific set pieces. I love the sequence where every single character is in grave danger- you’ll know the one when you see it. There is also a great sequence at a dock (though the weird burn victims seem reminiscent of something from Mad Max, and they’re not really explained) and a great sequence on a train, and the finale is pretty cool too. Basically, A Quiet Place Part II works for the same reasons that the first film did. Some might say it’s more of the same; I say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and Krasinski hasn’t, and for the better.
I like that this film has more of an ensemble feel than the previous film. While everyone had their moments, it seemed like the first film belonged mostly to Emily Blunt and Krasinski. This film feels like everyone does their part equally, particularly by the finale. Murphy gives the strongest performance of the bunch as a character who might seem cliche on paper, but is delivered beautifully on screen.
I’ll confess that when I heard that a sequel was announced, I was sort of skeptical. Often times, sequels are made simply for money, and the fear was this was going to be one of those cases. Thankfully, it isn’t. In my eyes, A Quiet Place Part II works a smidge more than the previous film. It achieves what the first film achieved, and while bigger isn’t always better, the bigger is better here. Depending on what Krasinski hatches for a third film, you can expect we’ll be there. It’s no wonder that this film had the biggest opening since the pandemic- this is just the sort of effective, chilling thrill ride we need right now.