That iconic final shot of 2018’s A Quiet Place left little ambiguity about what the future held for the Abbott family. As she cocked back the shotgun that had finally bested one of the mysterious sound hunting beasts, Evelyn (Emily Blunt) clearly signaled that better days are ahead. Finishing with such a clear, definitive scene made the almost immediate announcement of A Quiet Place: Part II feel unwarranted. The sequel could have been just another studio cash grab, but it turns out returning director John Krasinski had more in mind.
After a thrilling prologue detailing the day the monsters arrive, A Quiet Place: Part II picks up at the very moment Part I ends. Although momentarily triumphant, the Abbotts have no time to revel in it. Lee (John Krasinski) is dead and Evelyn must now find safety and shelter for her children, including the newborn she delivered just hours before. To that end, the family takes off in the direction of Emmett (Cillian Murphy), an old family friend.
When they find Emmett, he’s a shell of the man he once was, calloused by these creatures who stole from him his friends and family. His is the tone of nearly all adults in A Quiet Place: Part II. Tragedy has turned survivors into mercenary survivalists, jaded and unconcerned with the suffering others. It’s the kids, namely Regan (Millicent Simmonds) and Marcus (Noah Jupe), who are tasked with saving not only the world, but the humanity of those left.
If A Quiet Place was about a family paralyzed by grief, Part II is about channeling that grief into something positive. Regan understands this intrinsically. She sets out to share her monster vanquishing discovery with the world because to hoard it would be to diminish her own family’s personal loss.
On a more fundamental level, A Quiet Place: Part II runs into a handful of issues not faced by its predecessor. The silver bullet discovered at the end of Part I, in addition to killing monsters, saps an awful lot of tension out of the clashes between humans and beasts. Krasinski deals with this in a clever way: he splits up his main characters into three separate perils and cuts between them to keep viewers off balance. In effect he ratchets up the anxiety by leveraging the absence of any character on a parallel track.
While the aforementioned strategy is an example of masterful horror direction — as well as just a damn good sequence in a good film — it also underscores the more intractable problems presented by a sequel to something that felt complete on its own. What made A Quiet Place such a compelling story was it’s intimacy. One family facing a tragedy compounded by sci-fi plotting. Part II does it’s best to maintain the spirit, but every step into the broader world is a step away from the intimacy that fueled the 2018 film.
A Quiet Place: Part II is a very good film in its own right. With this mini franchise John Krasinski seems to have really found his footing as a director. Unfortunately sequels aren’t judged in their own right and the film it follows set the bar almost impossibly high. Still, fans of the original will find a lot to love in this installment 7/10