A Quiet Place Part II is a worthy sequel to the original A Quiet Place, although it is kind of one of those sequels where they’re basically doing the same thing again but this time with a somewhat bigger budget. Therefore, it doesn’t have the blast of fresh air originality of the first as the pitfalls of the alien infested world are now known. Also, some of the movie’s biggest beats are reprises of what happened in the original with minor changes. But the set pieces are fantastic as Part II does a great job of progressively ratcheting up the tension. It may have a familiar shape but the awesome stuff is seeing chaos unfolds.
A blistering opening prologue flashes back to the first day that killer sound sensing aliens landed on Earth. There’s a flaming meteor in the sky and then a few minutes later all hell breaks lose as aliens attack. It’s a satisfying explanation that doesn’t over-explain how it happened (maybe they’re saving the minute details for the third flick). The flashback shows father Lee (John Krasinski) trying to save his family, mother Evelyn (Emily Blunt) and his kids, Regan (Millicent Simmonds), and Marcus (Noah Jupe). The film then jumps forward to when Evelyn, the kids and a newborn baby are on their own, having found a way to disrupt the aliens with high-pitched frequency noises. On their journey, they find a loner survivor, Emmett (Cillian Murphy), who wants nothing to do with them. But Regan discovers a radio broadcast and wants to find other survivors. Even though the mother just wants to hide, Regan sets out and Emmett follows her. But the sound sensing aliens are everywhere and there may be human threats waiting for them in the wilderness.
Murphy’s Emmett looks out for himself and is afraid of other people. It is difficult to not make comparisons to Krasinski’s Lee since they both throw themselves into danger for Regan who has a habit of wandering off. Also, the bushy beard that Emmett sports looks very much like Lee. Murphy is good at acting cowardly which makes the moments when he stands up rather stirring. He’s paired most of the time with Simmonds’ Regan. A deaf girl, there is a stylistic trick to draw the viewer into her world where she can only hear muffled noises. This a very minimal script as dialogue is mostly whispered conversations or sign language. Simmonds’ conveys a lot and even though the kid makes some dumb and dangerous decisions, she is still someone to root for.
The two are at the centre of a very unnerving scene where they run into a gaggle of crazy survivalist people. Since nobody talks, the evilness the crazy survivalist people is unnerving. It shows what the alien plague has driven people to. Like all good post-apocalyptic stories, the biggest threat is eventually other people. Afterwards the duo find another group who seem kindly and their leader, played by Djimon Hounsou, gives a chillingly dramatic stirring speech about how things all fell apart after the aliens arrived. Unsurprisingly, their peaceful respite goes sideways quickly and when the aliens attack again it is a nice parallel between the opening chaos and the finale chaos.
Evelyn and Marcus are basically left behind although they still run into creatures as Marcus is hobbled by a trap. In a rather tense scene, he cries out in pain when the trap snags him and he can’t help but holler as the mom begs him to stop. Although it is sort of an amped up version of the same bit from the first film where Evelyn steps on a nail and the monsters hear her. Blunt had a badass moment in the final scene of the first movie and doesn’t quite reach that here, although there is a tense bit where she faces down one of the monsters. The newborn they tote around in a soundproof box is basically just a plot device to generate tension and there’s some really scary stuff involving a dwindling air supply for the kid, especially when the baby and Marcus are trapped in an airtight bunker.
The first film teased the aliens throughout so each time they got closer more was revealed. Here the discovery has dissipated a bit but there’s a lot of great scenes where the creatures seem truly unstoppable. Part II bounces back and forth between deep space quiet and screeching alien monsters and every time someone makes an unexpected noise, the creatures come crashing in the place. In the original a lot of the alien scenes happened at night which is sort of an easy FX cost saving measure. With more budget here there’s lots of daylight scenes where the critters are shown in their fully disgusting glory. Although ultimately, a lot of the scenes in Part II can be traced back to the original, especially the movie’s closing moments. The finale is dramatically effective but it is basically just copying the original’s final showdown with different characters.
While this may not be as bracingly original as the first time around, A Quiet Place Part II still has some genuinely riveting moments of tension. Some bits may be repeated but this still delivers more crazy and intense moments of monster chaos.
A Quiet Place Part II
Director: John Krasinski
Starring: Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds and Cillian Murphy.