I thoroughly enjoyed the first A Quiet Place, thanks to a unique concept, incredible sound design, and a great performance from its small cast that created an almost unbearable atmospheric tension. Even though the story didn’t try to answer too many questions regarding the origin of the film’s monsters and the fate of humanity, it did have a core done-in-one story arc focused on the Abbots, a small family trying to exist in a world overrun by blind creatures who hunt via the slightest sound.
The problem was that the film was so successful, both critically and commercially, that a sequel was an inevitability. And thus, when Universal made the follow-up official, I got very concerned that it would fall into the trap of common sequel tropes: increasing the number of monsters, doubling down on the formula, and trying to go bigger on everything that made the first movie so good and thus completely losing its appeal. However, I’m happy to report that my fears were very unfounded as this is one of the few sequels that has actually been built successfully on the blueprint of the original.
Yes, A Quiet Place Part II film does throw some more monsters at you. Yes, it does add a few more characters while focusing on a bigger picture. But it does so without losing any of the magic that made A Quiet Place so effective. While you could argue that in following a similar formula to the first movie it won’t be as innovative, Part II somehow manages to feel even more intense by removing some of the safety blankets from the original outing. Even though the first film was already a nerve-shredding rollercoaster, the family still had a relatively safe space for themselves in their home and stuck together as a family unit, which provided some level of comfort. This film takes the cast out of that safe zone, separates them, and places them in even more intense scenarios that make you feel their terror on a whole deeper level.
Speaking of intensity, I was so engrossed in the movie and the building tension that, much like the first film, I felt like I couldn’t even take a sip from my drink out of fear of making a noise and breaking the mood. This sort of fear is what made the first film such an incredible cinematic experience, and A Quiet Place Part II builds on that theme without simply mimicking the same scary scenarios but by crafting many new and unique approaches.
Rather than simply bombarding you with lots of monsters, Part II chooses to maintain its focus characters so that when the creatures do arrive at the worst possible moment, you’re truly holding your breath for them. Returning director/co-star John Krasinski – who also took over the writing reins from Bryan Woods and Scott Beck this time around – finds ways of taking us deeper into the fears of the characters and making you feel even more hopeless for their continued survival, resulting in a razor’s edge balance between world-building and atmospheric terror.
From a story perspective, A Quiet Place part II kicks off by taking us back to the D-day of the end of the world, chronicling the Abbot family’s first confrontation with the mysterious creatures. This helps Krasinski – whose character Lee Abbot died at the end of the first movie – step in front of the camera once again, but also offers up some further character development along with good scares. From this intro, we are then taken back to the remaining Abbot family members (Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, and Noah Jupe – all reprising their roles from the first film) and how they need to move on from Lee’s death while raising a new-born baby in this post-apocalypse landscape. When the hope of future survivors appears, they take the risky journey to leave their safe haven to possibly find a better future.
What Krasinski does with the story though is masterful – even though he may introduce some new characters, such as Cillian Murphy’s Emmett, he keeps the story firmly focused on the core family. By once again using a combination of strong visual details and excellent sound design, moments are built up that define the direction that this movie takes. It’s a great showcase in visual filmmaking where dialogue is not needed to tell a story, and Krasinski pulls it off wonderfully here, aided by the cast once again being on top form. The score from returning composer Marco Beltrami also deserves some praise, as it once again captures the emotion of the characters while allowing the quiet moments to shine.
Even though the story does take us to some bigger locations this time and gives us a sense of what is left of the world, it doesn’t do so recklessly and this balance is also applied to A Quiet Place Part II’s monsters. Scenes are tightly constructed and even if our characters are exploring a bigger space, you experience it from their cramped viewpoints as they are hunted by these creepy-crawlies. As a result, despite things getting bigger in this sequel, there is still a potent sense of dread, confusion, and mystery that is maintained throughout.
A Quiet Place Part II really surprised me with how it was able to successfully follow on from the original film, taking the characters to a deeper level while increasing the tension without appearing formulaic. So much so that I’ve gone from feeling that a sequel would simply be a poor cash-in to hoping for a Part III so that I can see the rest of the story of the Abbot family and how they survive in this dangerous world.
A Quiet Place Part II releases in theatres this Friday, 28 May.
Last Updated: May 27, 2021