Expanding the ravaged world he teased us with in the 2018 original, unlikely horror aficionado John Krasinski returns for another play in the unbearably tense playground that is A Quiet Place Part II.
Whilst the overall surprise element of the first film is perhaps not quite as prominent here, Krasinski still expertly manoeuvres around apocalyptic expectation with a narrative that bets on an emotional investment rather than a jump-scare aesthetic; that being said, this second rounder executes its share of successful jolted moments.
After an extended introduction clues us in on how this desolate, silent-driven existence came to be – wisely though, Krasinski avoids any background on the creatures wreaking havoc – Part II wastes no time in picking up where the first left off, following the persevering Abbott family – mother Evelyn (Emily Blunt), her daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds), son Marcus (Noah Jupe), and her newborn – as they leave the comfort of their former home for hopeful, safer pastures.
The film very much continues the ground rules of the first in that it’s best you stay quiet lest you be eaten, and though Krasinski (again) has an awful lot of twisted fun with this premise – the man sure knows how to create some impossibly taut set-pieces – it’s the emotional journeys of the young Regan and Marcus that continually project the film forward; she, struggling with the death of her father and how she can fill that void (if at all), and he having to now serve as protector to his family. It’s quite a thematically heavy effort, but it’s one that is effortless in the hands of Simmonds and Jupe, two engrossing young talents who essentially top-line the film, leaving Blunt in a more supporting feature as a mother, and now widow, navigating a world she no longer co-anchors.
By bringing the Abbott family out of their comfort zone and into a larger environment, Part II runs the risk of introducing post-apocalyptic tropes we’ve come to expect from similar genre pieces. Thankfully, Krasinski – however much he occasionally dips his toe into the expected – knows how to skewer these moments in his favour. This also extends to newly introduced characters, with Cillian Murphy‘s lone Emmett harnessing the archetypes of a villain, but revealing himself as an ally to the Abbotts, even if he is rather purposely shrouded in an uncomfortable mystery.
Whilst still adhering to the claustrophobic feel of the first film at times, this sequel delights in a more action temperament which serves a different type of purposeful tension throughout. Another technically marvellous offering though – the sound design is remarkable throughout in how it incorporates the deafness of Regan’s character – A Quiet Place Part II is that sequel rarity that both continues the original’s fine standing and creates its own personality in the process.
FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
A Quiet Place Part II is screening in Australian theatres from May 27th, 2021.