When “A Quiet Place” was released in 2018, it demanded a lot from the audience. It asked movie goers to do something that has proven to be difficult for some. To stay silent during the films presentation. But actor, screenwriter, producer and director John Krasinski succeeded in figuring out how to force the contemporary audiences to watch a film in total silence. “A Quiet Place” was a ginormous hit, having grossed over $340 million on a very small $17 million budget.
After one too many delays due to the pandemic, “A Quiet Place Part II” has finally arrived in theaters. It will also premiere on the Paramount+ streaming service, 45 days after opening in theaters. But first let’s give credit, where credit is do and you really got to hand it to Krasinski, in taking the leap from starring in one of NBC’s biggest sitcoms on “The Office” to directing a modern masterpiece like “A Quiet Place”. It is impressive to say the least.
In “A Quiet Place”, Krasinski and his two co-writers provided us with a double ending. One that left it open to a potential sequel and an ending that works as a one and done. But Krasinski has decided to turn “A Quiet Place” into a trilogy, but the question remains as to whether Krasinski can strike lightning in a bottle twice. Sequels in general are a difficult trick to pull off, as many rarely manage to exceed their predecessor. But “A Quiet Place Part II” is a rarity of a sequel that checks all the boxes in making a continuation that is bigger, more ambitious, contains a higher body count and does it all in a way that works.
This time around Krasinski serves as the only screenwriter and reunites for the third time, with his “13 Hours” director Michael Bay to help produce both “A Quiet Place” and “A Quiet Place Part II”. We start at Day 1 of the alien invasion and after what is one of the best openings to any film, Krasinski picks up moments after the first movie’s final frame. We meet up with the remaining Abbotts, led by matriarch Evelyn (played by Krasinski’s real-life wife Emily Blunt), courageous daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds) and son Marcus (Noah Jupe).
With their home destroyed, the Abbotts must brave the dangerous outside world in leaving behind the isolated sanctuary they had built for themselves. Their journey leads them to the discovery of an old family friend named Emmett (Cillian Murphy), who is laced with a great deal of trepidation, especially when his own tragic backstory becomes revealed. Emmett doesn’t believe that there’s anyone out there worth saving, which also includes his old friends the Abbotts.
When a plan emerges to use what the Abbott’s know to defeat the monsters, Emmett isn’t up for it. As events start to unfold, Regan sets out to find other survivors and spread the word about the aliens’ weakness (which was discovered in the first film). But when every step is possibly their last, it is harrowing to watch. And with each step, Krasinski expands his monster universe just a little bit more.
“A Quiet Place Part II” is not only driven by impeccable sound design, suspense and tension (which I’ll get into later). It’s also fueled by it young stars Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe who are given wider screen time to flesh out their characters. Both get to set themselves up to have a bigger role when the inevitable “Part III” arrives. Emily Blunt is extraordinary as always and just furthers her status one of our best actresses working today. Although her role as Evelyn is reduced significantly from the first film, she takes a backseat to her co-stars. Blunt loses screen time to Cillian Murphy, who replaces Krasinski as the male dominate hero role and Murphy is a great addition to the cast. Murphy is so good that we can’t help but understand his grief, feel his pain and believe his desire to remain cut off from the outside world.
Krasinski’s direction is extremely efficient, confident and assured. He also hasn’t forgotten how to grab us immediately and invest us emotionally. His original film and sequel are both masterclass examples from the book of Hitchcock in how to create, build and execute both suspense and tension. Krasinski has crafted some great set pieces in “Part II”, but he still can’t top the intensity and the masterful editing of the birth scene from his first film. He does keep a balance at play, in giving us something on a bigger scale and keeping to the intimate feel of the prior film. Although he does succeed, in choreographing the action scenes that is more impressive and more visceral this time around.
In the stunning opener, we are immediately reminded of Krasinski’s superior sound design and the lack of it, used to amp up the terror and suspense. While the memorable sounds of silence spoke volumes in the first film, not all the moments of silence have the same effect the second time around. The moments of silence are especially effective in the films opening, as we know that the characters are unsure of what is unfolding. We know why someone’s cell phone going off, someone’s voice or even the slightest noise can be the worst possible thing to happen. Just the shock from them finding out for the first time, why these things mean life or death is immensely satisfying.
I enjoyed the fact that “A Quiet Place Part II”, separates the Abbotts and puts them in jeopardy where they don’t have the opportunity to lean on one another for help. This gives us a chance to see how strong this family is on their own. The creatures themselves are shown in full display more often this time around and we get to witness first hand just how terrifying they really can be.
Krasinski doesn’t focus much on the world building of the creatures as much as he does with his human characters. We still don’t know these alien creatures history and why they are terrorizing humanity. Instead Krasinski puts his focus on his human characters as much as the scares and we are captivated by it. “A Quiet Place Part II” does suffer from what I call “The Hangover II” syndrome. Becoming a bigger, showier, louder and more ambitious than it’s original. But aside from a few moments here and there, “A Quiet Place Part II” is more or less a repeat of the original and while repeating the original structure didn’t work in favor for the guys of “The Hangover”. Krasinski is a more skilled filmmaker and he makes it work here.
“A Quiet Place Part II” works as well as it does because it knows how to tie genres together in such a smart and satisfying way. It’s part family drama, sci-fi and a ton of horror elements that gives this continuation an emotional, scary, anxiety inducing, pulse pounding and wildly intense ride.
“A Quiet Place Part II” follows the first films lean and mean running time of a quick hour and a half. The actor turned filmmaker has grown in confidence for bigger sequences and creates a sequel that makes viewers hold their breath in suspense and grip their armrests. It may feel like a “let’s make this a franchise” effort, but it’s certainly no attempt to just be a cash grabber. Instead it does exactly what one would expect a franchise sequel to do and then some. This is the very rare sequel that doesn’t come along very often, it is near perfect in what it attempts to do and is very close to becoming a modern classic, like the one that came before it.
GRADE: ★★★★1/2☆ (4.5 out of 5)
“A Quiet Place” (2018): ★★★★★ (5 out of 5)