A Quiet Place Part II – the sequel to the surprise 2018 horror hit, A Quiet Place – has finally landed in cinemas, arriving over a year after it’s original release date after being delayed a multiple amount of times. Now, we can all finally watch the long-awaited sequel and not only that, on the big screen where it fully belongs.
Centring on a post-apocalyptic world in which extremely sound-sensitive aliens have invaded the planet, this franchise sees humans attempting to be completely mute to avoid being killed. The sequel picks up exactly from where the first one ended, in which the remaining members of the Abbott family – mother, Evelyn (Emily Blunt), son, Marcus (Noah Jupe), daughter, Regan (Millicent Simmonds) and Evelyn’s young baby – are trying to find a new home, when they come across former friend, Emmett (Cillian Murphy). When Regan hears what she believes is a signal on the radio, she runs away to help them, and Emmett follows her to get her back. Meanwhile, Evelyn must deal with her young baby’s diminishing oxygen supply and Marcus’s injury from stepping on a bear trap.
The first A Quiet Place became an instant hit phenomenon for how innovative it felt at the time. The film felt like a return to back-to-basics horror film-making, or just back-to-basics film-making in general. Inspired by silent cinema, the Coen brothers’ 2007 masterpiece, No Country for Old Men and the sci-fi horror classic, Alien, the film put less of an emphasis on over-indulgent and expository dialogue and was instead a conscious effort to focus purely on visual storytelling. It was an exercise in pure, unadulterated cinema, one of which forced its audiences to pay close attention to it’s story and scares. And, seeing moviegoers pile into a packed cinema screen not making a sound (not whispering to the person sitting next to them or eating food very loudly) was an incredibly impressive feat, one of which had never really been done before.
And, for the most part, director John Krasinski really manages to pull off the same kind of success with the second part. Like the original, the film is pieced together with an absolutely cracking pace and some riveting sequences of tension. Krasinski is really great as misdirecting the audience, and surprising them with really creative scare. The film still feels like a real passion project from Krasinski, and you can feel this passion coming from the direction. The direction has a big Steven Spielberg vibe to it, and feels particularly inspired by his creature-feature blockbusters, Jurassic Park and Jaws (which also happens to be Emily Blunt’s favourite movie). Look out for a big Jaws Easter egg featured in the movie (not saying much, but just keep an eye on an oxygen canister).
As I’m sure you’ve already heard by now (or seen possibly a hundred times in all the trailers), the film opens with an extended prologue sequence, which is centred before the apocalypse and sees the aliens attacking the humans for the first time. The sequence feels like a terrific short film (one with a beginning, middle and end), and beautifully sets up a riveting and suspenseful atmosphere for the rest of the film.
There is the same amount of brilliant tension than in the first, but this sequel feels possibly like the more polished movie in the franchise. The film also boasts some incredibly impressive camerawork and cinematography this time around. There is an particular emphasis put on adventurous camera movement and panning shots (look out for a wonderful shot of Millicent Simmonds waking up) and some beautiful shot symmetry (there is a great shot involving Emily Blunt holding a gun) and this makes for a much more visually striking movie. You can definitely tell that Krasinski is growing and getting a lot more confident as a filmmaker, and that’s a pleasure to see.
The level of improved craftsmanship also extended to the film’s terrific editing. The film manages to cross cut between two (and sometimes even, three) different settings, and does it with a real ease, and uses a load of great screen transitions that are very impressive. Although this sequel lacks the freshness and novelty of the original, this is probably the more well-made and well crafted movie out of the two films.
There is also an active attempt in this sequel to explore this post-apocalypse world in more expressive detail. The first one largely felt like an Earth-set homage to Alien (in it’s quiet storytelling and creature-feature scares), but this one feels more influenced by it’s 1986 sequel, Aliens in how it isn’t unafraid to move around and change locations. Although it is not as bombastic and adrenaline-fuelled as Aliens, there is also a definite attempt here to be more action-packed and visceral than it’s predecessor. From one of the very first images of Noah Jupe’s character’s foot being trapped in a bear trap and seeing him letting out an almighty scream, you can tell that this instalment is trying to be a lot more centred around action.
And, although the universe doesn’t feel as well-explored as the post-apocalyptic world of something like The Walking Dead, we do get to see how different people have reacted to this alien invasion. In the first film, it was just centred around a small family of four and their experiences, while this sequel shows us some different perspectives, including a number of families who have come together to make a large community to Emmett’s experience of losing his wife and child and being completely alone. However, Krasinski doesn’t go over the top with this – he adds just a few more people and a few more locations, and still keeps the small and quiet soul of the original.
Krasinski, however, makes sure he doesn’t lose focus on the characters at the heart of the story. The film’s young stars, Simmonds and Jupe continue to impress, and it’s wonderful to see such a huge franchise putting younger stars in interesting, strong roles. It’s also interesting to see these characters challenge gender roles and stereotypes – Simmonds is allowed to be tough and strong-willed, while Jupe is allowed to be more scared and weak-willed.
Simmonds is looking more and more like the lead of this franchise, and definitely ranks up there as one of the defining heroines in the horror and sci-fi genres, and has echoes of a young Ellen Ripley or Imperator Furiosa. Both Simmonds and her character are deaf, and it’s also great to see this disability represented on the big screen, but also done in a way that it is not a weakness, but instead is her superpower.
Murphy is also really great, and his father-daughter-figure relationship with Simmonds is really at the heart of the story. Here, he takes over from John Krasinski as the male lead of the movie, and that’s great, because he is a vastly superior actor to Krasinski, and his introduction works really well. It’s just a bit of a shame that the focus on Jupe, Simmonds and Murphy takes the focus somewhat away from Blunt. She still gets some great moments, but it just would’ve been nice to see more of her.
Overall, the sequel is absolutely terrific, but it does feel slightly unambitious or unadventurous. It doesn’t really try anything really innovative or original, and that’s a shame because the first movie felt so different to anything else at the cinema. It does also feel very short and slight, and when it ends, you’ll be surprised – not because it ends in an insufficient way, but because it just feels like there could have been more story to tell.
However, A Quiet Place Part II is absolutely worth a return to the cinema. This film being the film that is premiering in cinemas after a lengthy (5 month) closure is really wonderful – and actually quite poetic – as it’s the sort of film that is built for the cinematic experience. It’s a shining example of how to craft movies with an emphasis on visual storytelling, and hopefully future movies will take influence on its willingness to be silent and have the utmost confidence in it’s audience. A Quiet Place Part II is tense, thrilling, so much fun, and definitely one of the best films of the year. Definitely go see it!