If there was a sleeper hit that didn’t need a sequel, A Quiet Place appeared to fit the bill. While the film ended on an abrupt cut to black, it seemed to tell us everything we needed to know about the Abbott family. Why continue such a perfect standalone story? You may go into A Quiet Place Part II skeptical, but you’ll walk out more than pleasantly surprised. Although it’s hard to top the original’s innovation, this sequel practically matches its predecessor’s intensity, heart, and craft. The film is familiar in some ways, yet new in others. In both cases, it’s a sequel that builds upon the world, characters, and premise.
The film’s opening is a testament to John Krasinski’s strength as a storyteller. In a flashback, Krasinski’s Lee goes about his day right before all hell breaks loose. Those who’ve seen the first film will appreciate a few subtle touches alluding to the tragedy that’ll soon befall the Abbotts. Although we know which major characters will survive, this doesn’t take away from the sequence’s nail-biting suspense. That’s because Krasinski and the cast do such an effective job at establishing the Abbotts’ close rapport. While this flashback wasn’t 100% necessary, it adds layers to these characters that make you appreciate their journey even more. The same can be said about A Quiet Place Part II as a whole.
We then jump ahead to where the last film left off. Lee is gone, but Krasinski remains behind the camera. Evelyn (Emily Blunt), Regan (Millicent Simmonds), Marcus (Noah Jupe), and the newest Abbott are ready to fight back against the sound-sensitive aliens. As we learned in the previous movie’s final act, Regan’s cochlear implant is the key to stopping the creatures. Since it’s not exactly easy to communicate in this new world, though, the Abbotts must head out into the unknown to spread their message. Along the way, they come across an old family friend named Emmett (Cillian Murphy), who’s been emotionally drained by the invasion. This contributes to the tension as we contemplate how much Emmett can be trusted.
At its core, A Quiet Place was a coming-of-age story with Lee passing the baton to Regan. A Quiet Place Part II continues to evolve this theme with Regan stepping up as the MVP. Just as we see the Abbott kids mature, the sequel expands its mythos with new ideas, settings, and characters. It would’ve been nice to see more of some additions, particularly Djimon Hounsou. Overall, though, Krasinski keeps matters fresh while also delivering everything that made the original great: an atmospheric score by Marco Beltrami, visual storytelling intertwined with worldbuilding, and Oscar-worthy sound.
Last February, I RSVPed to a press screening for A Quiet Place Part II. Naturally, that screening – along with many others – had to be canceled due to real-world events. Watching the film over a year later, it’s hard not to think about the pandemic. There’s a particular line about Lee’s filthy hands that hits home. At the same time, the film will remind audiences just how much they’ve missed going to the movies. Time will only tell if theaters can make a true comeback. One thing is for certain, however. A Quiet Place Part II benefits from the theatrical experience, and if you’re eager to finally get back to the Cinemax, this is the film to see on the big screen.