Director: John Krasinski
Notable Cast: Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Cillian Murphy, Jahn Krasinski, Noah Jupe, Djimon Hounsou
One could easily consider A Quiet Place the horror movie heard ‘round the world when it dropped in 2018. For a film about silence and missing communication in a world made quiet by sound-hunting monsters, it sure made a lot of noise upon its release. With most of the cast returning, John Krasinski retaining the director’s chair, and the cliffhanger finale of the original, there was a lot to look forward to in A Quiet Place Part II. However, where Krasinski aimed for an admirable “less IS more” goal with the original, he shifts his focus towards a “less OF more” mentality here. It’s a subtle shift, but one that certainly carries impact. For fans, it’s a welcome return to the post-apocalyptic world of the original that delivers on many of the aspects that made it an instant modern classic, but it’s also a film that suffers slightly from sequel-itis.
Now, there was a comment made in the beginning of this review that Krasinski aims for a ‘less OF more’ in this film and that comment stands. As with all sequels, there is a tendency to go bigger, expand further, and build more. This is true of A Quiet Place Part II. There are more monsters, bigger action set pieces, and more characters. The world within this franchise is explored in more detail, particularly in the reveals of its third act, but Krasinski, as both a writer and director, aims to still keep the film as intimate and vague as possible while delivering on the sequel promise of “more.” There is a tendency for the two approaches to be at odds with one another, but the film does an impressive job at getting them to work together.
Following the events of the first film, A Quiet Place Part II acts very much in the vein of its title. Ergo, this is the second chapter in a much larger tale. Although the film starts off with a bit of a flashback, cutting to the quiet streets of a small town in New York that that showcases a returning Krasinski and Blunt trying desperately to save their children when the monster invasion first starts, the rest of the film immediately follows the cliffhanger of the first film.
Although this opening sequence certainly kicks off the movie with a bang, giving the audience what they want in chaos, the stars, and a reintroduction to the world with big spectacle, the rest of the film does pull back. Krasinski has quite the steady hand as a director in building tension and suspense to sell it off in punctuated moments. It’s delivered in spades here. To the point that he pushes his own sense of balance by trying his hand at building tension over three separate plot lines in the second and third acts when the characters split to go on their own paths. It’s a remarkable feat, crafted through impeccable pacing, volatile situations, and some impactful visuals.
The loss of Krasinski as the father character in the film was a massive obstacle to overcome for A Quiet Place Part II, but the addition of Cillian Murphy is a brilliant choice. In fact, as the story splits, it’s the plot with Murphy and Simmonds (returning as the daughter) that truly feels like the new heart of this film. Both deliver heart-wrenching performances that steal every moment. While the brother and mother both get their own little plots of suspense, they feel a tad more like filler compared to the new dynamic between Murphy and Simmonds. Everything still continues to work, admirably at times, but it’s not quite the finely tuned machine of the original. It’s a shame that in splitting the plotting that Emily Blunt isn’t given more to do, but as always, she makes the most of her time on screen. If anything, the biggest issue that arises with the new approach to splitting the story is that it can’t even fully tie everything back together by the end of the film. It caps on another cliffhanger that feels less like a tease and more like a ‘to be continued’ mark. For those of you familiar with this site, the fact that A Quiet Place Part II feels a bit like half of a movie does tend to grind my gears a bit, but it still ultimately works.
In terms of the franchise, A Quiet Place Part II doesn’t quite find that brilliant balance of its predecessor, but it’s another very impressive and effective entry. The new elements are a welcome expansion of the universe, the performances continue to rip out the heartstrings of its audience, and the continued pummeling of tension and suspense ought to deliver enough panic attacks and anxiety bursts to last us until the inevitable A Quiet Place Part III hits theaters.
...and in reference to that, the film certainly ends on one more cliffhanger that teases even more monster mayhem to come.