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Review: A Quiet Place Part II – What the Big Screen was Built For


Summer 2021 will hopefully go down in history as the time when we felt safe to return to the movies. Going to the cinema will initially feel different, and yet, once the lights go down, the fundamental rollercoaster experience of action extravaganza feels exactly the same – an unadulterated visual pleasure. 

Straight out of the gate, A Quiet Place: Part II (AQP2) delivers even more thrills and spills based around a simple premise: human survival after alien attack, heightened by phenomenal sound design; all the more enjoyable for being seen by the collective on a giant screen with Dolby surround sound. AQP2 is, of course, the perfect movie to entice cautious viewers back to the big screen. It’s big and brash, full of heart-in-mouth jump scares tempered by lump-in-throat storytelling, testament to John Krasinski’s continued confident direction.

Even though predecessor A Quiet Place came out in 2018, this sequel instantly re-establishes the family dynamics and terrifying conceit by beginning on the day the aliens arrived. As a reminder: Large Cloverfield-style aliens equipped with super-sensitive hearing, ravenous power and four ugly brown limbs have taken over the Earth, with only small pockets of people barely hanging on in silent, isolated groups. At the end of A Quiet Place, patriarch Lee Abbott (Krasinski) had sacrificed himself to one such attack, to protect wife Evelyn (Emily Blunt), deaf daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds), son Marcus (Noah Jupe), and their new baby (name never mentioned). However, to establish the before times, the first shots of AQP2 show Lee buying oranges in a town where everyone knows his name, before shooting the breeze with neighbour Emmett (Cillian Murphy) at their kids’ softball game. This couldn’t be more fantasy Middle-Americana. Then those trademark strange news reports and flaming balls in the sky herald the arrival of the alien monsters, followed by some terrific action set-pieces of the arrival as prefaced in trailers. Cut to a few months after baby Abbott’s stressful birth, and the Abbott family can no longer remain in their decimated farmhouse. A human-made fire in the distance heralds the presence of more resistors nearby, including Emmett, still alive, albeit barely surviving. Meanwhile, Regan hatches a plan to use the special hearing-aid feedback device she accidentally created in A Quiet Place to torture the aliens into large-scale submission. True to action-movie form, the courageous and let’s face it, insane Abbots are split into groups (sometimes as victims of circumstance), each impaired in some way, and each having to undertake an extremely dangerous quest. One wonders if there has ever been a film with characters facing more simultaneous jeopardy. AQP2 does a fantastic job of keeping viewers on the edge of their seats for its taut 97 minutes. 

L-r, Regan (Millicent Simmonds), Marcus (Noah Jupe) and Evelyn (Emily Blunt) brave the unknown in “A Quiet Place Part II.”

To keep up this constant jeopardy, Krasinski must make sacrifices, which unfortunately includes believability, character development or even sometimes, character establishment. The film could easily have been 30 minutes longer. Blunt’s Evelyn is demoted as a result of her needing to keep a newborn alive, although Krasinski wrings every ounce of anxiety from the utterly bonkers decision to bring a child into this post-apocalyptic hellhole. Luckily, the action vacuum is filled primarily by Simmonds, with Regan effectively carrying the film. Simmonds does a stunning job. If ever there was a character motivated rather than hindered by their impairment, it’s Regan. It’s almost painful to watch the danger she puts herself in because she doesn’t experience that vital facet of fear – horrific alien clicking sounds. Jupe also does great work. Marcus is so believable as the most human and flawed Abbott family member with his screaming in pain and forgetting basic life-saving behaviours. In fact, every character is immediately punished for letting their guard down for a moment, especially Marcus, who at one juncture, must deal with one of the most unique moral dilemmas of modern cinema.

Murphy, although on-screen a great deal, is somehow muted. Emmett’s presence is mostly as a facilitator to Regan’s hero’s journey. And what a journey that turns out to be.

AQP2 borrows from many other horror, sci-fi and dystopian films (and video games) in order to widen its narrow focus, and plenty of the plot devices are clearly telegraphed by Krasinski, who should have more faith in his audience. But this does not detract from the sheer spectacle of AQP2, led by DoP Polly Morgan. The CGI creatures are given far more screen-time than previously, and they are a sight to behold, a flawless example of what modern visual and sound designers are capable of. AQP2 is a brilliant reminder of why studios make high-concept action thrillers, and the perfect antidote to small-screen Zoom fatigue. 

A Quiet Place Part II opens in US cinemas on 28th May and hit UK cinemas on 31st May 2021.

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