John Krasinski’s follow-up to the 2018 smash-hit proves worth the prolonged wait

By: Steve Pulaski

Watching A Quiet Place Part II during the pandemic made me realize that if something like this did indeed occur, a fairly large group of Americans would stand outside and bang pots and pans together in effort to prove a point.

Now to swerve. Having rewatched A Quiet Place just a few days ago, you could believe John Krasinski and company were not envisioning a sequel, but when it became a springtime smash at the box office, there was no choice but to continue. Working with the characters originally created by Bryan Woods and Scott Beck, Krasinski manages to succeed in furthering this story. Just when you expect the so-called “sequelitis” to wash over you, you find yourself getting wrapped up in this dystopian hellscape all over again.

Part II opens with a glimpse of “Day 1” of the invasion. It’s a regular morning in the Abbotts’ sleepy New York town, culminating with an afternoon of Little League baseball. Patriarch Lee (Krasinski), his wife Evelyn (Emily Blunt), and daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds) are in the stands with family friend Emmett (Cillian Murphy) watching Marcus (Noah Jupe) march to the plate when a spaceship and subsequent fireball appear in the sky. Then the monsters appear. And the end of civilization as we knew it.

Cut to “Day 474” and we pick up mere moments after the conclusion of A Quiet Place. Lee is dead and the surviving Abbotts take to the trail to seek out a warehouse that’s become an encampment. There, they find Emmett, all alone following the death of his family. On their way inside, however, Marcus gets caught in a bear trap, badly mangling his leg in one of the film’s most upsetting scenes. While inside the mill’s subterranean bunker, Regan successfully finds a radio signal and becomes committed to finding its origins so as to admit the high-pitched frequency that stuns the monsters. Evelyn then tasks Marcus with watching the newborn baby while she treks into town for additional supplies.

It might not sound like much, but Krasinski crafts enough material for Part II to make it stand on its own as opposed to feel like a rehash of the original. Him and editor Michael P. Shawver (Black Panther) seamlessly juggle these three storylines, all of which are investing in their own right. Leaving the kids (relatively) up to their own devices permits Jupe and Simmonds an even greater playing field on which to shine. And shine they do. You saw their talents in the first film, but Krasinski rests a lion’s share of the weight on these two young performers, who so effortlessly convey emotion with minimal dialog.

Slightly disappointing is this sequel is indeed louder than the original. ASL, part of the series original appeal, is largely replaced with hushed dialog. Part II bends some of the rules its predecessor ardently enforced. Even Simmonds — who is deaf in real-life — utters faintly spoken words in contrast to her once totally silent performance. That’s where this follow-up loses some of the eloquence it worked diligently to build. The monsters are afforded more screentime as well, although they aren’t afforded much backstory of their own. I’m beginning to fear they exist and invade “just because,” in a real Paranormal Activity-esque way of an ongoing franchise not explaining the root of its evil.

Krasinski still manages to impress with his stylistic choices. Two scenes stick out in particular and both are set in vehicles. Rather than capturing the mayhem conventionally, by having us view things from the third person perspective of the driver, Krasinski plops us into the backseat, forcing us to witness the ensuing destruction from the car windows. It adds a lot to the ambiance, but it also emphasizes the thrill that has become inherent to this series. I continue to be impressed by Krasinski’s focus on both terror and occasional serenity in the calm. The way it heightens our moviegoing senses as a collective is the part of the magic of the movies. A character inadvertently snapping a twig or a cellphone suddenly blaring still provide the same pang of fear during this second go-round.

Krasinski manages this while downplaying it all. These movies are far more understated than they appear, even if this one in particular is a tinge more reliant on jump-scares (most of which successful, I’ll add). A Quiet Place Part II‘s shortcomings are comparatively minor given how lackluster horror sequels can be. Even skeptics might find themselves coming to anticipate Part III a bit more than this one seeing the integrity maintained despite the odds.

Grade: B+

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