A Quiet Place Part II
US (2021) Dir. John Krasinski
You knew this sequel was coming, and not just to capitalise on the success of the 2018 hit A Quiet Place, but because the original story was left open enough to accommodate a follow up. If you recall, an alien attack by creatures with poor eyesight but sensitive hearing has ravaged the earth, with cautious survivors being few.
Widowed Evelyn Abbott (Emily Blunt) and her children, deaf daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds), son Marcus (Noah Jupe) and her newborn baby are run out of their hideout by an attacking alien. During their escape, Evelyn trips a fire alarm and Beau gets his foot caught in a bear trap, attracting more aliens. Fortunately, they make it to the abandoned steel foundry, helped to safety by Emmett (Cillian Murphy).
An old friend of Evelyn’s late husband Lee, Emmett has fashioned a soundproof base in the underground chambers of the foundry, offering the Abbotts sanctuary. When Marcus hears the song Beyond The Sea playing on the radio, it is assumed to be a signal from other survivors, and the group seek to find out if this relates to a nearby island. Getting there however, isn’t going to be easy.
Some sequels find themselves in the unenviable position of having to meet the lofty expectations of its predecessor and it is fair to say A Quiet Place Part II falls into that category. Was it necessary? That is open to debate though its inevitability was obvious. One thing this sequel has going for it is made clear in the title – Part II tells us this is a continuation of the story, not a cash in follow up, therefore serving a greater purpose.
This is something a lot of people seem to have overlooked when assessing this film, so taking this approach before watching it certainly helps frame its narrative. Whether this means it’s better or worse than the first is purely subjective, but context is important. One thing I imagine writer-director John Krasinski was happy about was killing off his character in the end of the first film so he could concentrate on his job on the other side of the camera.
Krasinski doesn’t let himself completely off the hook, as the film opens with a flashback to the day the aliens hit their part of America. Showing off the reported triple budget of the first film, a teen’s baseball game is interrupted by a fiery trail in the sky followed by a huge sonic boom and the sudden appearance of the aliens. The people in the town run for cover but many don’t make it.
Obviously, this doesn’t apply to the Abbots but they don’t escape unharmed either. In a great sequence filmed in one shot from the POV of the car’s backseat, Evelyn engages in some nifty driving to avoid being attacked by the aliens, both forwards and in reverse. It’s a pacey, thrill ride opening to start with a bang before we jump to the present timeline and the enforced silence from where we left the first film.
Evelyn, with three children to look after, has toughened up a lot but still a mother first. To transport the baby safely, she has modified a chest with a small canister of oxygen for when the lid is closed. This is a bit hard to reconcile but needs must in this desperate situation. Luckily, when they find Emmett at the foundry, he puts the injured Marcus and the baby in the soundproof vault so they can scream their heads off.
Introduced in the flashback, Emmet has lost his wife and recently his daughter and has all but given up on life. He welcomes the company but seems to have rattled Regan for talking about her father in an unflattering light. If you recall, it was Lee who realised the feedback from Regan’s hearing aid was an effective tormentor for the aliens, leaving them open to shot and killed.
Like father, like daughter, Regan figures out the meaning behind the radio transmissions but unable to convince anyone to verify her suspicions, she sneaks off alone, prompting panic in the camp. Emmett reluctantly goes after her, beginning a thorny relationship which eventually evolves into one of mutual surrogacy, taking in some reciprocal bacon saving along the way.
Here is where I think many people tend to sour on this film. Whilst this ends up being a showcase for the Abbott kids after the first film was about their parents – a sort of laying the foundation for a possible future passing of the torch – the story needed something else to drive it now we know what the aliens’ weakness is. I can see some finding this a bit contrived and twee but in keeping with the scenario of surviving an alien attack, such scenarios are likely to occur.
Credit to Krasinski, he is trying to establish a secondary emotional core for us to latch onto with Lee now demised and Regan needing a sparring partner. He could have done that with Evelyn and Marcus, which in fact is a concurrent subplot and plays into a tense simultaneous heroic sibling climax, but Regan is a more interesting protagonist, courtesy of another top performance from Millicent Simmonds.
Mrs. Krasinski aka Emily Blunt is on fine form again, this time more of a pillar for her younger co-stars, a role an unrecognisable Cillian Murphy as Emmett, but both also get to see some action. From Krasinski’s point of view as director, he has shown he can do action set pieces as well as tense, atmospheric dread, the latter not as present as before but still used effectively enough.
Despite another open ending A Quiet Place Part II offers a suitable second chapter to the story begun three years ago, but may not leave us wanting a third, although studio bean counters will disagree. Still a fun and tense ride, if a little hampered by less mystery behind the aliens to work with