A Quiet Place Part II
Directed by: John Krasinski
Written by: John Krasinski, based on Characters created by Bryan Woods and Scott Beck
Starring: Emily Blunt, Cilian Murphy, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, Djimon Hounsou,
This might sound cliché, and in fact, it is cliché, but “A Quiet Place Part II” is a tear.
[fabric rips behind the scenes, insert loud screams of excitement]
All kidding (and cliched comments) aside, “A Quiet Place” took the world by storm in April 2018. I was lucky enough to be at the film’s world premiere at the 2018 South by Southwest film festival the month prior. You could feel the energy on the stage as director Krasinski, and the rest of the cast and crew introduced the film. The tension that filled the Paramount Theatre as that movie unfolded was palpable.
Now, three years and one pandemic later, Krasinski’s follow-up, “A Quiet Place Part II,” is being unleashed in theaters this weekend. Notably, it isn’t concurrently hitting any streaming services, making the film a vital service by keeping the story contained in one place instead of going as wide as possible. It will begin streaming on Paramount+ 45 days after its theatrical release.
“A Quiet Place Part II” is most definitely a sequel, but it is also its own stand-alone story. One could equate it to “The Empire Strikes Back,” not necessarily for its themes or cliffhanging reveal, but its story structure isolates itself from the previous story while bridging the two films.
Structurally, the film bookends the characters’ respective journeys by beginning with a flashback, something that took me by surprise because I guess I hadn’t been paying attention to the advertising, covering my eyes when the trailer would show on TV . . . oh who am I kidding – I don’t have cable, so I intentionally didn’t watch the trailers, and it paid off.
This story sees the adventures of Evelyn Abbott (Emily Blunt), her daughter, Regan (Millicent Simmonds), and son, Marcus (Noah Jupe), as they seek a new home on a desolated earth, having been invaded by creatures who use sound to find us.
Sound is an intrinsic part of this second film, which is interesting in and of itself – humans are not quiet by nature. Yet, sign language remains a critical communication method between Regan, Marcus, and Evelyn. New to the fold is Emmett play by Cillian Murphy.
Krasinski manages to amp up the tension without artificially supporting it, and that’s in large part since the Abbott’s split up in this film – each on a mission to play their role in their survival. By doing this, Krasinski sets Simmonds up to be the lead character – this is her story as she leverages Lee’s (Krasinski’s character from the first film) efforts in the first film. Taking this route, Krasinski also allows Murphy’s Emmett to have a strong, father-like, or better stated, guardian presence.
This isn’t to say that neither Jupe nor Blunt had diminished roles. “A Quiet Place Part II” strengthens both characters as they find their footing. The structural bookends in Krasinski’s story start with a flashback to when the aliens first arrived. Those early moments serve as a foundation for Jupe’s Marcus, and the payoff, part of an exquisitely shot and edited sequence that bridges the second and third acts, was perhaps my favorite part of the movie. Hats off to Polly Morgan’s film-based cinematography and Michael P. Shawver’s sharp editing skills. Differing adventures separate the three character moments and are brought together in image to represent resolute determination – the children become their parents standing on their own two feet.
Marco Beltrami’s music continues the tradition of impactful minimalism, and the sound design is as incredible as it was in the first film.
I had planned to watch “A Quiet Place” before seeing “A Quiet Place Part II,” however I’m glad I didn’t. It made the experience of watching Krasinski’s second film that much more rewarding.
This second part is not without its faults, though. As we expand beyond the desiccated farmland and into the proverbial wilderness, a sense that something unintentional is being sought. By that, I mean that everything in this film has a place – it is intended. Yet, the island sequence in which Djimon Hounsou’s character shows up is unintended and unexpected, turning this moment into an expected cliché, dampening the film’s mood. I grant you that it is to the story’s effect that this scene is needed, but more care could have been given to its function.
As it is, we do see more of the creature, and the jump scares are not manufactured. . . . ah, that’s an important point – despite the intent of each character, very little of the film feels manufactured – the scares are good.
That is until we get to that damned island sequence again.
It’s a conundrum that the story focuses on pockets of isolation, both in character and in the technical components – sonically and visually. Yet, we resort back to ways of familiarity, seemingly connecting the film with our current reality.
I don’t know; I’ll have to let it go because as much as it drags down the flow of the story, it is integral too. Perhaps Nietzsche wasn’t too far off the mark when he said “out of order, chaos” was appropriate. I question some of the story decisions Krasinski made, which puts “A Quiet Place Part II” a few steps below “A Quiet Place.” Yet, he managed to strengthen already strongly developed characters into something even more – he showed growth, and that’s not an easy thing to do in a sequel.
“A Quiet Place II” is now exclusively in theaters and is Highly Recommended.