John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place was a movie that caught horror fans completely off guard. It was totally unexpected coming from an actor who mainly existed within the world of comedy and earned rave reviews, on top of being a big hit at the box office. That said, when talk of a sequel inevitably happened, a second A Quiet Place movie just seemed – unnecessary. So much so that the idea of a sequel didn’t even appeal to the director himself, let alone to some of its adoring fans. They felt Krasinski’s horror debut was perfectly fine as its own sequel-less experience. That was until Paramount somehow convinced Krasinski a sequel was important.
What started out as simply resembling a writing credit quickly turned into Krasinski’s return to the director’s chair. Emily Blunt, his wife and co-star in the first movie, wasn’t long following in his footsteps. Following this news, excitement was brimming among fans of the original. The two being onboard again suggested there was so much more the world of A Quiet Place had to offer.
The sequel picks up directly where the last left off with the Abbott family, distraught and broken, leaving their home in search of possible salvation. Equipped with the newfound knowledge and success that acted as the anchor for the original movie’s climax, the Abbott family encounters old friend Emmett (played by the brilliant Cillian Murphy). This kickstarts another perilous journey that could bring a new sense of hope in the ongoing battle against the vicious, otherworldly creatures with super hearing plaguing the world.
Watching A Quiet Place Part II is a different kind of experience than its predecessor. Never is that more prevalent than in the opening few minutes. Giving us a brief look into how this all began, Krasinski wisely chooses to start the movie with the defining events of ‘Day 1’. Feeling eerily similar stylistically to the panic-filled opening of the incredible 2013 survival horror PlayStation game The Last of Us, ‘Day 1’ is a confident start that quickly establishes what kind of journey this newest entry will be.
Whereas the first movie kept the creatures mostly off-camera, A Quiet Place Part II refuses to relegate its gnarly invaders to mere background apparitions emerging from the dark. Instead, Krasinski opts for a louder approach with a focus on vocalised terror and the consequences of sound, as opposed to the unwavering tension of silence. It is a brilliant contrast that perfectly compliments the first movie’s approach.
The writing here, much like the first, is top-notch. Whether it be the tension-filled segments of terror or the simple human-to-human interactions, Krasinski understands the importance of character development and its place within A Quiet Place Part II’s scarier moments. If you removed all trace of its monsters, you would still end up with a fascinating but disturbing road movie, showcasing that Krasinski understands that in order to create a terrifying experience, you must first build the world around it, so it can ultimately thrive when the horror takes a backseat.
The characters were one of A Quiet Place’s major strengths and here Krasinski ensures this remains the case. Blunt as Evelyn is the confident and strong matriarch, Millicent Simmonds as her daughter Regan is the determined voyager focused on fighting back and Noah Jupe as Evelyn’s young son Marcus, although he may be the least confident of the bunch, is a protector when it is needed most.
But new addition Cillian Murphy gives the stand-out performance as Emmett, a man who has utterly lost everything but who – through this chance encounter with the Abbotts – may just get the chance at redemption he so desperately needs. With Krasinski’s Lee lost forever, Emmett becomes that father figure and anchor for Regan’s journey and once again offers that interesting dynamic between the fear of sacrifice and the persuasion of morality.
The cast are all on point here. You feel each character’s pain, depression, struggle and ultimately, salvation. Yes, some of them still make silly choices but it works because Krasinski once again reminds viewers that we are all human and it is not the mistake that matters but what you do to rectify it. Djimon Hounsou even makes a brief but much-welcome appearance towards the tail end of the movie and keep an eye out for indie favourite Scoot McNairy in a blink and you’ll miss it role.
Focusing on set pieces, Krasinski has nailed it once again. Much like the overall tone and execution of A Quiet Place Part II, the action sequences here are louder and harsher than before but thankfully not in a jump scare way. They are still carefully constructed around atmosphere and dread but make no mistake, they are bigger in scope than the original’s were.
One particular set piece intersecting two very different fearful encounters (one focusing on the silent approach and the other showing us the consequences of sound) is this sequel’s undeniable high point and showcases Krasinski’s ability behind the camera to make truly fascinating horror. I personally came away from this particular set piece feeling like I had just attempted a 100m sprint, my heart thumping erratically. It has been quite a while since any horror movie has managed to encapsulate that feeling so powerfully and it may just be A Quiet Place at its riveting best.
Where the original A Quiet Place possibly trumps its sequel is in its finale. However, this is only slightly because once again Krasinski has ramped it up to ten for the conclusion. The original’s finale tugged on the heartstrings with an emotional focus that hit home the despair and fear that the Abbott family needed to overcome. While some of that emotion is present in A Quiet Place’s Part II’s finale, the emphasis is more on the action itself and the unique way it is cut together. As such, while it is in itself a pulsating and phenomenal conclusion, it perhaps is less powerful than what came before.
Overall, though, A Quiet Place Part II confidently progresses beyond its franchise’s silent movie-esque beginnings in a way that still feels perfectly suited to the series’ ravenous world. This sequel and its predecessor will surely go down as one of the greatest (if not the greatest) horror double bills in recent memory.