Following the events at home, the Abbott family now face the terrors of the outside world. Forced to venture into the unknown, they realize the creatures that hunt by sound are not the only threats lurking beyond the sand path.
I’m not sure why, but I was particularly nit-picky when reviewing John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place upon its release four years ago. This carried over while watching its sequel, an equally tense but narratively threadbare production constructed like an elaborate shell game. While the filmmaker is dazzling you with one horrific sight after another, you’re not supposed to notice the script’s inconsistencies and its characters’ bonehead decisions.
Part II begins with a needless prologue, a self-indulgent 10-minute sequence that takes place on the first day of the alien invasion at the center of this franchise. Contributing nothing of consequence to the story that couldn’t have been addressed later, this stretch exists only as an excuse for Krasinski to appear on camera once again and so that we can admire how he moves the camera as a director. The number of tracking shots used during this introduction may cause motion sickness in sensitive viewers.
Once that’s dispensed with, we move along to the story proper, such as it is. The action picks up moments after the first film ended, the Abbotts – grizzly bear momma Evelyn (Emily Blunt), resourceful hearing-impaired daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds), scared of his own shadow, pre-teen Marcus (Noah Jupe) and his infant brother- are trying to pick up the pieces as they look about their ravaged farm. Leaving their home, they stumble upon an abandoned foundry, where an old friend of theirs, Emmett (Cillian Murphy) has taken refuge. Though reluctant to help, he lets them in, which proves to be a mistake. After stumbling upon a radio station that’s repeatedly playing Bobby Darrin’s “Under the Sea,” Regan becomes convinced this is a message of sorts and is determined to find the source. Her reasoning is that if she can find the station, she can broadcast the discordant, amplified sonic wave from her hearing aid over the airwaves, incapacitating a large number of aliens in the process.
Mom, of course, is against this, as is Emmett, but being the headstrong young woman she is, Regan sets off in the night. Evelyn stays behind to take care of the infant and Marcus, who’s been injured, while Emmett reluctantly sets out to track her down. Of course, this sets up many opportunities for the creatures from beyond to attacks our heroes, both the ones on the move and those staying put. Without question, these moments are very well-done. Through camera placement and movement, as well as the innate ability to build, sustain and shatter a palpable sense of tension, Kransinski delivers some genuinely frightening and thrilling moments. Of particular note is a sequence in an abandoned train car in which the sound is turned down in order to put us in Regan’s vulnerable shoes. Her inability to hear the approaching baddie, which we see stealthily drawing near, is brilliant and unnerving. Even more impressive is a sequence in which the director cuts back and forth between three separate scenes, matching visual and aural cues between them, increasing the tension in all. It’s edge-of-your-seat stuff that delivers the goods.
I just wish the script was as tight. Far too often characters act in ways not in keeping with their previous behavior, while continuity mistakes during key moments are obvious cheats. Then again, I’m not – and you’re not – supposed to notice such things. No, we’re supposed to be distracted by the horror and mayhem, excusing the nagging lack of logic that arises. And most will, as the visceral thrills have an impact. For many, Part II will be good enough, as long as they check their brains at the door.
2 1/2 Stars
Rarely does a sequel live up to its predecessor and A Quiet Place Part II, unfortunately, is no exception to this rule. While it does have its moments, both in story and art, the novelty of the concept is no longer a surprise, lessening the overall effects.
Before the introduction credits even roll, we are brought back to Day 1; the day the horrors all began. For those who missed the original film, or perhaps forgot a few things, this gets us up to speed, punctuating the tension- and anxiety-filled days, weeks, months, and even years to come.
Now on her own, Evelyn (Emily Blunt) must raise and protect her newborn, her older son, and her daughter who is hearing impaired. As imminent demise is on the horizon, she packs up her kids and treks quietly, barefoot (I’m not sure why) to another survivor’s “abode.” Together, they hatch a plan to not only survive but to conquer their enemies.
The artistry in visual storytelling hits a brilliant high note as three simultaneous events unfold, seamlessly stitching together the tale. Unfortunately, two of these stories are so ridiculous that it pulls you out of the film. The remaining storyline of Regan (Millicent Simmonds), the child whose silent world we experience, is riveting. Her performance steals the show and should have been the primary focus instead of relying on forced and stereotypical horror tropes.
If you can overlook these elements, it’s certainly a film that will keep you awake, particularly on the big screen.