Review: A Quiet Place Part II
Come on, feel the noise.
The 2018 A Quiet Place was a movie about family values—chief among them, don't die a painful and horrifying death. It was also a film with a title that was fully warranted: The first 38 minutes of its 90-minute runtime were entirely wordless.
A Quiet Place Part II, the new sequel (or continuation of the story, as writer-director-actor John Krasinski has been putting it), is considerably noisier. This may upset more fastidious viewers but will probably be fine with those who are basically in the mood for a full-roar monster movie.
The noise kicks in right at the start, with a spectacular opening scene that takes us back to the day the space creatures invaded. It's a sunny small-town afternoon, with a Little League baseball game underway. Then there's a ball of fire streaking through the sky; then complete chaos and terror erupt. Krasinski is already a master of this stuff (there's a shot involving an out-of-control bus that should go directly into the oh-my-God hall of fame). But he also knows the importance of moving things along (this film is only seven minutes longer than the last one). So in a flash we find ourselves back at the end of the first movie. Krasinski's character, rurally inclined engineer Lee Abbott, has just sacrificed his life to save his children, the deaf Regan (played by the extraordinary deaf teen actor Millicent Simmonds) and her younger brother Marcus (Noah Jupe). Now they and their wrung-out but undauntable mother, Evelyn (Emily Blunt), are trudging away from their wrecked homestead into a dark future. (Also along for the journey is the infant Baby Abbott, a nipper so newly born that no one has even bothered to give him a name yet—welcome to the world, kid!)
Krasinski is also attentive to the needs of pacing. Something is always going on, and it's not always monster mayhem. The snap of a closing bear trap. A nerve-frazzling rescue inside an abandoned train. A clot of feral human strangers whom we'd really rather not meet. But it's the creatures—tall and toothy and altogether off-putting—who own the movie's several showpiece scenes. There's a wonderfully well-shot attack at a marina, with uncannily nimble creature movements, and an island invasion that spoils everybody's summery day in the most violent possible way.
An especially laudable aspect of the movie is the amount of effort it devotes to not being a retread of the first film. We see more of the monsters this time (although not so much that they begin to bore us). And since Krasinski is only a fleeting part of the cast now (in that opening flashback), his place is well-filled by a dad-like new character, a reluctantly helpful neighbor named Emmett (winningly played by Cillian Murphy).
Some things remain unchanged, of course. The creatures are still blind and rely entirely on their hyper-acute sense of hearing to wreak havoc. And they lose their tiny minds at the sound of electronic feedback—a fact that Regan discovered with her cochlear implant in the first film and now puts to excellent use with the help of a small guitar amplifier.
Some widely asked questions also remain. Like, what do these creatures eat? We see their huge razor-like teeth and claws capable of ripping through the side of a car. But we never see them ripping through a tasty human. Also, why are the family members all running around barefoot, even on the jagged crushed rocks of a railroad track bed? Have they already forgotten Evelyn's nail-pierced foot in the first movie? And what about Baby Abbott—how likely is it that he could survive tucked away in a wooden box with nothing but an oxygen nose clip to breathe through?
But let's not pick nits. Maybe these and other questions will be answered in A Quiet Place III, which is already in development. (You figured that, right?)