MOVIE REVIEW: A Quiet Place Part II
**WARNING: SPOILERS FOR THE FIRST QUIET PLACE MOVIE ARE AHEAD**
In 2018, star of The Office and beloved television star John Krasinski announced himself to the world as not only an icon of the small screen but a phenomenal writer and director for the silver screen as well. That breakthrough came with the horror film A Quiet Place – the chilling and suspenseful story of a post-apocalyptic world where the survivors are hunted by seemingly indestructible blind creatures with an acute sense of hearing. The film was lauded for its inclusive casting of a hearing-impaired protagonist, its stunning sound design and a story that was equally as emotional and beautiful as it was bone-chilling.
A Quiet Place was everyone’s favourite horror movie for a while, and it probably still is mine. So, naturally, I was a little worried when Krasinski announced that a sequel was set for release in 2020. Had the remake and sequel culture of Hollywood taken yet another talented director into the clutches of money-grabbing in his filmmaking? Was another of my favourite movies about to be ruined by a meaningless addition to its canon?
The answer, I can now decidedly say, is a resounding no. This sequel lives up spectacularly to the billing of its predecessor.
Serving more as a second chapter in a longer story than a sequel, A Quiet Place Part II continues the struggle of the last survivors of humanity against the mysterious and terrifying alien creatures that hunt them constantly. It features Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe reprising the roles from the first film, as well as the introduction of Cillian Murphy and Djimon Hounsou. Murphy in particular puts in a brilliant performance.
Krasinski himself also returns to the screen, featuring in an opening sequence that serves as a flashback to the first day of the alien invasion. This opening sequence is proof that Krasinski is not a one-trick pony as a horror director.
While A Quiet Place, and indeed the sequel, are bone-chilling through their exploitation of sound design, using every breath, creak and tiny noise to build tension, the opening flashback sequence is the other side of that coin. In a world before the arrival of the creatures, this scene is a cacophony of the noises of everyday life, set against the dramatically ironic backdrop of the impending disaster. Krasinski creates a cheerful scene, deliberately bright and deliberately very loud, and it is somehow as terrifying as the rest of the film. For me, it is one of the best scenes in the franchise so far. Never before have I been so scared watching a scene that seemingly depicts nothing but cheerful, everyday life.
As sequels go, A Quiet Place Part II is exactly what it should be. It pits the characters against a new set of challenges immediately after the death of Lee, as they seek out other survivors and safety from the ruins of their old home. Nursing a newborn baby and without her husband for the first time, Blunt’s lead performance as Evelyn is as raw and masterful as her starring role in the original film.
The real star of the show in this instalment, however, is Simmonds. The character arc of Regan, Lee and Evelyn’s hearing-impaired daughter, takes on a new, raw and empowering turn in the sequel, as she mourns the loss of her father and steps into his shoes, taking initiative in seeking a way to destroy the aliens. Her defiant and sometimes stubborn independence, her struggles with hearing loss and the impact of losing her father are evident in her powerful performance. Once again it must be said that her inclusion in this cast is not only merited, as she is a phenomenally talented young actress, but inspiring. She serves as a shining example of inclusivity in Hollywood and brings an understanding of her character that no one else would be capable of. She is astounding.
Again, it is the sound design that makes this film so unique and terrifying. Like its predecessor, A Quiet Place Part II experiments with silence, muffled sound, and amplifying seemingly mundane noises to build tension. As our protagonists face the constant threat of the acute hearing of their hunters, every breath and every snap of a twig is a moment of suspense. Even such tiny things as the crunching of leaves under a character’s foot were enough to have me holding my breath.
The first film was also remarkable for the chemistry between its characters – a natural fit for married couple Krasinski and Blunt – and Lee’s absence doesn’t detract from that in this film. Not only do Blunt, Simmonds and Jupe put in raw and superb performances, but Murphy’s introduction provides another complex and emotionally captivating character arc that will have you in tears. Murphy, indeed, was the surprise factor of this film for me. I expected a new character tacked on who I might come to appreciate by the end of the film, but it took no time whatsoever.
And yet, the sequel goes in a different direction to the first chapter, too. While the first instalment was a story of sacrifice and desperate struggle in the face of an unvanquishable foe, the sequel sets its foundations on the aliens’ weakness introduced at the end of the first film, providing an equally desperate but more defiant struggle for our main characters, as hope appears that they may be able to gain salvation for what remains of humanity.
A Quiet Place Part II is an example of a sequel done right. Merely the second chapter in a longer story, and not another random escapade tacked onto the success of the original, it will captivate fans of the series and will blow away film lovers in general.
It is a suspenseful, emotional, terrifying roller-coaster ride that feels from start to finish as if it has true stakes for our characters. Krasinski continues to show that he has mastered the arts of suspense, storytelling and sound design, as well as visual artistry, as what you see often tells a story in conflict with what you hear.
The movie will chill you to the core. It’s a work of beauty and a horror film not for the faint of heart.
See A Quiet Place Part II, directed by John Krasinski, only in cinemas.