In theaters Friday May 28.
The Abbotts — Evelyn and her children: Regan, Marcus and infant — leave their home to try to find a safer haven in the outside world. With creatures who hunt by sound still wreaking death and destruction, it is a precarious journey, and they discover these creepy aliens are not the only threats lurking on their post-apocalyptic path.
It is rare that a sequel lives up to its predecessor, but “A Quiet Place Part II” succeeds on all fronts.
At the outset, the film reveals this story’s roots, vaulting audiences thoroughly back into the nightmare. We deftly relearn the rules of this deadly world as we are quickly re-immersed in a silent world. We already know what is to come and we want to scream RUN!!!!
Writer/director John Krasinski, along with John Beck and Bryan Woods, masterfully build tension throughout. Using familiar trope, we understand the structure of the story — noise kills. We know and care for the characters and we are familiar with the villains ... and then this story begins.
We see Marcus’ growing maturity, Evelyn’s vulnerability and continued strength, and we witness Regan using her newfound confidence to piece together a plan for survival.
In addition, viewers discover that the aliens are not the only thing that the Abbotts have to fear. We learn more about the Abbotts, the aliens and the world in which both these factions exist. This newfound information propels the story for audiences because we continue to wonder and fear what is waiting around the next corner.
The editing is fantastic and is used to beautifully blend the three concurrent stories as they spur tension within each. Themes of love, sacrifice and betrayal galvanize this story, as each character must weigh risk vs. reward for their actions. The Abbotts risk everything because of their love for one another, forcing away their fear while family friend Emmett (Cillian Murphy) is driven to inaction by his fear.
The action easily drives this film, yet it is used sparingly. The crescendo of fear as the aliens become active is outstandingly harrowing and will drive audiences into a frenzy.
The cast is skilled, making the most of facial expressions, posturing, sign language and minimal dialogue to further our emotional commitment to this family and their trying saga.
This film will bring audiences back into theaters and MUST be seen on the big screen. “A Quiet Place Part II” creates a very loud buzz!
For a pulse-pounding 97 minutes, “A Quiet Place Part II” delivers a satisfying sequel that broadens the original story with clever moves and adds to its superb cast.
Writer-director John Krasinski, who directed and co-wrote the original, has built more tension-filled sequences and delivered well-timed jump scares. He maintains what made the 2018 film uniquely scary where any noise would attract the monsters.
Now, after a 14-month delay because of the coronavirus pandemic, the film has eerie parallels to what we went through in quarantine — though it had been completed for a March 2020 opening.
It may be the first movie to entice people back to the local multiplexes, kicking off the traditional summer movie season. It’s comforting to share the suspense with others in a communal setting, as we emerge from our isolation to be frightened by a vastly different world.
With masterful editing from Michael Shawver, the fear is palpable, and the importance of keen sound design magnified by what may be waiting for the humans if detected. Every snap, crackle and pop are excruciating.
For the first scene, we are taken back to the Before Times — an ordinary Saturday afternoon in the small town where kids and parents are on the local ball diamond, when the sky fills with a mysterious visual as something hurtles towards earth. Quickly, parents grab their children and attempt to head home as the invading aliens pounce. The danger escalates, which leads to the events of the first film. In this flashback, Krasinski returns briefly as Lee, trying to herd his family to safety.
Part II takes up at Day 474, when the surviving Abbotts venture from their farmhouse cocoon to explore the outside world, in hopes of finding people at
bonfire encampments while not
attracting the marauding predators.
While the first film was stingy in its reveal of the grotesque beasts, which are giant, fast-moving, spidery lizard-like forms whose lethal bite is as sharp as knives, this time they are often shown up-close. Their ferociousness is on full display, which ratchets up the terror.
The smart and resourceful Abbotts get out of numerous jams but are never far from being dinner.
Daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds), who is deaf, hatches a plan after suspecting Bobby Darin’s song, “Beyond the Sea,” heard repeatedly on a radio station, is a signal. She takes off to save her family — and humanity — while mom Evelyn (Emily Blunt) implores their former friend and neighbor Emmett (Cillian Murphy) to go after her.
The casting of the Irish actor is genius. Almost unrecognizable with a shaggy beard and blue-collar wardrobe, Murphy convincingly plays a grieving husband and father whose undercurrent of sadness provides an emotional depth, and his expressive eyes aid in the nonverbal acting.
Emmett has made a solitary fortress in an old steel mill that he reluctantly shares with the Abbotts. Haunted by losing his family, he spends his days drawing photos of his little boy and protecting his turf. He has a pessimistic view of civilization.
As Regan’s protector on their journey to find an oasis, Emmett is challenged as well — but fights like hell to survive as his strength builds. When the pair reach a coastal island, Djimon Hounsou — in a small but pivotal role — plays a helpful resident.
Because of widening the scope, Krasinski has less for Blunt to do, but she is effective as the panic-stricken mother trying to protect her children at all costs.
The child actors stand out, particularly Millicent Simmonds as the deaf girl who is very intuitive. Her lack of hearing is crucial to the story, as in the first, and so is her cochlear implant.
While you can be cynical about that plot device, and think the film resembles M. Night Shyamalan’s “Signs” from 2002 because of another plot twist, I think the characters are worth following. Original co-screenwriters Scott Beck and Bryan Woods had helped create memorable characters that we cared about and still engage three years’ later.
Krasinski counts on moviegoers to remember key elements of the first film without too much rehashing and gives a few hints. He keeps the film moving at a good clip.
The film leaves us wanting more and is set up for a third installment. What happens in that bubble could still intrigue because of the ensemble’s outstanding work.
“A Quiet Place Part II” is even more unsettling than the first, as we can really feel the uncertainty based on our own COVID-19 experiences.