At the Movies Review – ‘A Quiet Place Part 2’
With Mark Ziobro
John Krasinski had a large mantle to top in “A Quiet Place Part II,” most notably the horror masterpiece he created with the first film. The most remarkable thing about “Part II,” however, is that Krasinski didn’t try to top it, nor turn “A Quiet Place” into a ‘universe’ like so many Marvel films or even the “Cloverfield” series. What he has done, aptly, is to create a film that is definitely a sequel, and one that will please fans of the original while also welcoming others in. The film is not a standalone, but does the “Quiet Place” world justice. And with some new themes, but a familiar tone, the film is a success in every right.
This is a direct sequel. Evelyn Abbott (Emily Blunt) is left holding the same shotgun she has fired to end the first movie, with her two children (Noah Jupe, Millicent Simmonds) standing scared besides here. A lot has happened in their lives. They have lost their brother, now their father (Director John Krasinski), and Simmonds’ Regan has discovered how deep her father’s love for her went, which she once doubted. With no options, the four (Evelyn carries a newborn, cleverly concealed and kept alive with oxygen so the creatures can’t hear) set out to find other survivors and perhaps a way to move forward.
There are several high points of “A Quiet Place Part II.” Firstly, the story is allowed to evolve. If the first was about family and togetherness, the second is about growth and humanity. The addition of a long-lost neighbor, Emmett (an excellent Cillian Murphy) adds subtlety to the plot. Evelyn and family have spent time getting here, and gained hope after learning how to fight back. But Emmett is quick to dispatch their hopes fully: “The people that are left,” he says,” they’re not the kind of people worth saving.” We quickly see he is right, as a gang of survivors attacks Regan later in the film. However, “A Quiet Place Part II” is about lessons, and we learn that even Emmett’s views can be challenged later on in the film.
John Krasinski once stated in “The Big Picture Podcast” that he didn’t want to be openly involved in the writing, before ultimately taking on the mantle for the film. But it seems during that transition the script transformed, allowing the Abbott children to take front and center this time around. Blunt performs aptly, but takes a back seat as Simmonds and Jupe fill out roles that overshadowed by parents last time around. Marcus (Jupe) plays a role well designed around fear for the first part (along with pain—one scene he undergoes is kind of gut-wrenching), which will ultimately lead toward empowerment and growth. And Simmonds—who was astounding in “Part I”—is allowed to transform even further. She has a lofty goal to help take back the world in a quest involving her hearing aid, and shows courage and bravery seemingly unchecked by danger.
The biggest surprise to me was the authenticity of Cillian Murphy. When casting house names like his for a sequel to a much-anticipated film, you often run the risk of actors overtaking the film. But Murphy does none of that; he fits into this world seamlessly, both in the foreboding present and flashbacks involving ‘Day 1,’ where the creatures decimate the small town in a horrific scene. His acting is subtle, stolid, and filled with growth. I was reminded of his power and emotion of the mesmerizing “The Wind that Shakes the Barley” here, not of bigger blockbusters that line his resume. He has his scenes: one, where he warns the Abbotts of the types of people left in this world, and another with Regan later on that is the stuff great movies are made of.
But the second most welcome surprise here is simply Krasinski’s filmmaking. It’s evident now that “Part I” was not a one-off, as the director knows how to make an engaging horror film that defies the genre and becomes something more. The set-pieces are part of it: he re-uses the same theme music, to nice effect, along with haunting follow-cameras and POV shots/sound of deaf Regan aptly. However, it’s nice to see that Krasinski still avoids convention like the plague. There are parts of his film where you can see an easy set-up for tired horror tropes—and then Krasinski side-steps them entirely. There’s just story here, no needless homages, unnecessary twists, or cheap scares. Krasinski fully trusts his audience…and it shows.
“A Quiet Place Part II” is a great movie. Everyone will have their favorite of the pair. For me, “Part I” holds a dear place in my heart, but “Part II” follows nicely and becomes a great sequel. Many have told me “Part II” trumped Part I for them, so it will likely be up to the viewer to decide. At any rate, Krasinski and team have made a solid sequel that is a smart horror film that rewards viewers for their patience and should be seen by all. The film opened in the theaters with a message from Krasinski thanking audiences for taking the chance to see his film (only released in theaters) while Covid is still a risk. When a director cares that much about his audience, the quality of the project is destined to follow suit.
Mark is a New York based film critic and founder and Managing Editor of The Movie Buff. He has contributed film reviews to websites such as Movie-Blogger and Filmotomy, as well as local, independent print news medium. He is a lifelong lover of cinema, his favorite genres being drama, horror, and independent. Marek is also a former editor for the Utica Phoenix.