[Review] 'A Quiet Place Part II' Delivers Terrifying Thrills Guaranteed to Illicit the Occasional Scream
Last night, I got to be back in a theater for the first time, and I can’t imagine a better return to theaters than John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place Part II…
…It feels like a strange serendipity, considering that A Quiet Place Part II was one of if not the first horror films pulled from their release date due to the pandemic. A little over a year later, and I can confidently say that if you were a fan of the first film, the wait for the sequel has been worth it.
Directed by Krasinski while also taking over script duties this time, A Quiet Place Part II picks up immediately after the tragic events of the first film (fair warning, there will be spoilers for that film ahead). With the Abbott family’s home destroyed and Lee (Krasinski) dead, his wife Evelyn (Emily Blunt), deaf daughter and ultimate badass, Regan (Millicent Simmonds), oldest son Marcus (Noah Jupe) and their newborn baby head out to find other humans still alive. After encountering longtime family friend Emmett (Cillian Murphy), Regan discovers that there may be civilization out there trying to contact them. But with the terrifying creatures that hunt by sound still out there, reaching that civilization won’t be easy.
The rules of A Quiet Place are to stay as quiet as you possibly can, but excuse me while I scream about how much I enjoyed this movie.
A Quiet Place Part II opens with what will likely go down as one of the most thrilling, heart-pounding sequences in horror for 2021, taking us back to the very first day of the invasion, and the moment life went to hell. Krasinski is already a master at tension building, and this scene is the perfect example of that. His direction is confident and methodical, following Lee on an average morning as he visits locations that we’re familiar with from the first film, such as the pharmacy, forcing the audience to wait with baited breath as we anticipate the inevitable. And let me tell you, things get turned from 1 to 11 very, very quickly, demonstrating just how devastating the creatures of this world are.
The opening sequence is absolute carnage. Krasinski impressed filmgoers everywhere with his direction of the original film, yet somehow A Quiet Place Part II is even more impressive, showing Krasinski’s growth in presenting high-octane terror and action. There isn’t a moment where the creatures show up that A Quiet Place Part II doesn’t get the heart pounding. To the point where even horror nuts like myself jumped a few times thanks to some well executed scares. A Quiet Place Part II is that perfect blend of chills, thrills and a heavy dread permeating throughout that drags the audience to the edges of their seat and keeps them there.
As for the cast, all of the returning performers are exceptional in their roles, with Blunt in particular portraying a strength in the face of tragedy that is powerful and poignant. Cillian Murphy is a more than welcome addition, bringing a surprising amount of heart and vulnerability to the role, particularly in his interactions with Simmonds. Simmonds is the true standout though, once again delivering an utterly captivating performance. The young actress has a bright future ahead of her, and A Quiet Place Part II is the proof.
Aside from the relentless terror—and it is relentless—Krasinski successfully finds the heart in his monster movie, something which is much easier said than done amongst such spectacle, and he’s done it twice now. You could say that A Quiet Place Part II cheats in a sense by ripping open old wounds in revisiting moments of tragedy from the first film—you all remember how the original began, I’m sure—but that also speaks to the depth of these characters, that the pain they’re feeling still hurts so much. A central theme of this sequel is in observing how the family is forced to move on from the man that kept them whole, and A Quiet Place Part II is ripe with moving moments that keep us rooting for these people, even when they’re making terrible decisions.
And holy hell, do these characters make bad choices.
Horror fans are used to people doing dumb things in the name of moving the plot forward, but one of the flaws of A Quiet Place Part II is how forcefully these characters are put into bad situations. I won’t say how, but the film finds ways to split everyone up that, while it creates greater suspense in separating them, often feels frustrating. Luckily, character motivations are at least clear and understandable in the face of stupidity, so none of this is so abrasive that it takes the audience out of the film for long.
Where A Quiet Place Part II risks losing some viewers is in its redundancy. The film itself is not what I would call “predictable”, nor is it repetitive on its own, but compared to the original, it’s much more of the same without adding much new. Krasinski gives us hints as to the origins of the creatures, and we learn an additional quirk or two regarding these things, but in terms of expanding the world, A Quiet Place Part II feels a bit like a wasted opportunity. The film takes us away from the Abbott’s home and opens up a bit with new and interesting settings such as a ravaged train and an eerie shipyard, but anyone looking for an expansion on the lore of the creatures will be sorely disappointed. A Quiet Place Part II feels more like a stepping stone between films, spending more time building up to an inevitable sequel rather than telling its own complete tale.
That being said, if you enjoyed the first film, you’re going to have a great time with this sequel. Hands down. A Quiet Place Part II may not do much that’s “fresh” or “new”, but it does everything the first film did and does it well, if not better. If this is the first film you’re seeing in going back to the theater, it’s the perfect reminder of why we love going to the movies. And if you haven’t been back to theaters yet, make A Quiet Place Part II your first trip back. This film is a rollercoaster that we’ve been standing in line for a year to ride, but I dare say, it’s worth it.
Now bring on the third film.
A Quiet Place Part II is now in theaters from Paramount.
By Matt Konopka