John Krasinski probably didn’t know the kind of magic he had on his hands with 2018′s A Quiet Place, a horror/sci-fi/family drama kind of thing wherein horrific monsters from beyond the stars show up to slash fools using echolocation. Still, with wife Emily Blunt in tow, Krasinski (who both wrote and directed the original film and its new sequel) tapped into something special, and the new installment keeps those feels going.
In A Quiet Place Part II, we get a little origin story action in a flashback to the day the Earth stood silent, or at least the day a mysterious meteor crashed into our planet, unleashing horrifying and blind but powerful monsters. They’re like a combo of Slender Man, a praying mantis and some kind of ruthless jungle cat, and though they can’t see their prey, the monsters have built-in radar like woah.
The opening minutes are the film’s best—a combination of video gamey chaos (look to the beginning of the 2013 PlayStation game The Last of Us, wherein a zombifying mold rips apart a small Texas town) and the third-act kitchen/raptor scene from Spielberg’s Jurassic Park. Krasinski then jumps back to the fallout of the first Quiet Place’s ending, and it’s only a little noticeable that young actors Noah Jupe (Honey Boy) and Millicent Simmonds (Wonderstruck) have aged and grown. Blunt, brandishing a behemoth shotgun, is as badass as ever.
We follow the Abbott family from their utopian farm into the greater world, as signified by the literal end of the sandy path the family laid down to get around silently and barefoot. From there, A Quiet Place II unravels into a bit of a mess, both in pacing and in narrative. Mainly, we find callbacks to things that barely landed in the last film (or even this one’s early scenes), and that selfsame “are the monsters the monsters or are the leftover humans the monsters?” rhetoric we tend to find in movies like this rears its ugly head.
A borderline brilliant Cillian Murphy (Peaky Blinders) shakes things up as a neighboring farmer thought dead who begrudgingly learns what it is to care about the greater good, even after one loses everything. Jupe, as good a kid actor as there is, disappears into the voice of whiny reason (he honestly goes around almost getting himself and others killed, and his talents feel wasted here) while Blunt settles into more of a supporting role to Simmonds’ turn as the golden child who would save everyone. A deaf actress playing the lead is a big deal (representation seriously matters), and the sound design built around Simmonds’ perspective is so artfully executed that we don’t even notice how it phases -after a while—the true mark of a well-done subtle effect. All around her, the monster mash unfolds in percussive but silent violence—it’s cool.
If nothing else, A Quiet Place II sets the stage for its own trilogy, which does mean a less-than-satisfying resolution. Even so, Kransinski struck gold with this idea, and it wouldn’t be the worst thing to have another journey into the fray.
+Simmonds and Murphy; sound design; the idea itself
-Noah Jupe is wasted; ends abruptly
A Quiet Place Part II
Directed by Kransinki
With Simmonds, Murphy, Blunt and Jupe
Violet Crown, PG-13, 97 min.