When A Quiet Place burst on the scene in 2018, it felt like a breath of fresh air, in my opinion. Although the horror genre has been, arguably, on the cusps of a renaissance, dependent on who you ask, with fun supernatural horror fare like Stephen King’s IT duology, psychological horror from newly crowned horror maestro Jordan Peele, it isn’t often we see a film approached with the world-building and ingenuity that director John Krasinki brought with him in his freshman effort. The film received critical acclaim and was a real box-office juggernaut, grossing over 350 million worldwide, an absolutely unfathomable number for an original in the genre. Since then, I think a lot of us may’ve cooled on A Quiet Place. I know I’ve certain had a moment or two where I have played acupuncture with the film, overanalyzing it into oblivion, then, trying to explain every detail with as much precision as I can. I also know a lot of others have really soured on the film altogether, some may even outright despise it. In my opinion, it was still a very good horror film and I was very excited for the sequel.
A Quiet Place Part II sees John Krasinski featured again as director, as well as in a small flashback sequence early on in the film. Set where the original film left off, the surviving family, which includes the mother (Emily Blunt), daughter (Millicent Simmons), son (Noah Jupe), and their smallest child, must continue to navigate and survive in the post-apocalyptic world. This brings them to venture out, becoming reacquainted with an old friend (played by Cillian Murphy), as they search for sanctuary, as well as a way to further combat the alien creatures inhabiting the planet.
Similar to, and surprisingly, like the original, A Quiet Place Part II received critical acclaim, which is almost unheard of for a sequel to a horror film. Perhaps even more surprisingly, the film made nearly 300 million worldwide, which is fantastic in and of itself, but is even more impressive when you consider how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected other horror sequels this year (see Spiral, Escape Room 2, The First Purge, and Don’t Breathe 2).
Let’s straightaway say that I enjoyed the film. I looked forward to the film. I was excited and I was not disappointed. The film, for all intents and purposes, feels like an apt, logical progression of the earlier film. Something I liked about the original film that still holds true with the sequel is that it does not try to wedge itself into any rigid expectation of what a horror film is meant as. It feels like a horror epic in that regard, and I know that was one of the things the director went out of his way to accomplish. It feels like a chapter or progression in an ongoing saga, maintaining a tonal consistence that stays and retains itself.
Like Alien before it, there is a sense of a more grandiose, intimate world to engross oneself in. The film is maintained and conservative, without ever feeling slow-burn or artificially elongated. Cillian Murphy is a welcome addition to the film, always a good card for any hand. As well as this, Millicent and Noah have improved in age, allowing them to better grow into their characters, particularly Millicent, who is allowed to build a strong rapport with Cillian’s character. The attention to detail was distinct, I appreciated the occasional parallels between each characters’ subplots, meanwhile, the action-scenes were effective, bolstering the same kinetic energy of the original film.
I will admit, however, I did find myself with an emptier feeling this time around than the last. This wasn’t due to any potential storyline hole, and, in fact, I thoroughly enjoyed the numerous ways they combatted the alien creatures. Instead, it is because of an admitted predictability and sameness to the film comparative to the original. The relationship between Millicent and Cillian’s characters was solid and immersive, but, also, very expected. There was even a cutesy callback to a sign-language based moment between them that could have been predicted from a mile away. Likewise, the end of this film left us about where I had thought we’d left off in the original film. There is a development, for certain, and it makes sense, too, but, I don’t know, I found it felt very ho-hum and, ahem, quiet, instead of ending things with a bang.
Overall, I think I’d say the story of this film feels like it touches on a lot of the same beats as the first, but has diminished returns, in part because the relationship between a father and daughter is more poignant than the relationship between a daughter and her father’s random friend. The grimy, desolate cinematography remains on-point, but, at the same time, I would have liked to see more expansion on the actual world, as I feel a lot of what we received, while technically good and efficient, felt less unique and interesting, and more dystopian 101. Whereas the first coasted off the concept’s novelty and uniqueness (that being a sound-based conflict), I feel this film played it safe and didn’t do a whole lot to crack open that egg, so to speak.
Otherwise though, A Quiet Place Part 2 is a genuinely good film and a solid sequel to the first, and I would definitely recommend it to those who liked the first film. If you didn’t though, I doubt this will make you into a believer.