After a seemingly endless wait where we endured our own (thankfully temporary) dystopia of separation and social breakdown, the sequel to John Krasinski’s majestic horror/thriller has finally reared it’s head and quietly stalked into cinemas – possibly on it’s own trail of sand, I don’t know, I haven’t checked. The first movie, which seemingly came out of nowhere to orally rock our world, was a rousingly confident, high concept chiller that told the tale of a family striving to survive in silence after an invasion of gangly-legged, sound-triggered creatures has eradicated most of the surrounding public that ratcheted up the tension to unbearable degrees and featured career best performances from Emily Blunt and her actor/director partner. So with the sequel finally arriving, has Jim from The Office managed to do the decibel double?
After an exhilarating sequence that details day one of the onslaught of those brutal creatures whose brains appear to be one giant ear drum lodged in their toothy, pine cone-like skulls, we pick up exactly the moment Part One ended with the Abbott family in pieces after the sacrifice of dad, Lee, but also simultaneously triumphant after figuring out a chink in the monster’s seemingly indestructible armour by rigging up the cochlea implant of hearing impaired daughter, Regan. Achieving something that’s apparently never be done (ie. mother Evelyn turning one of those bastard’s brains into tapioca with a shotgun while it was stunned), the family decides to leave their wrecked house with sensitive son Marcus and Evelyn’s newborn baby in tow in order to search for other survivors to give them shelter. What they find is a busted ankle for Marcus at the Jaws of a spring trap and temporary salvation thanks to broken family friend Emmett who has been living as a recluse after losing his wife and children to either rending claws or ravaging illness.
Adamant that they can’t stay despite the wounded boy and painfully vunerable baby, Emmett butts heads with the willful Regan, who after discovering a single song played over the airwaves, not only figures out where it’s coming from but how they could conceivably use the radio signal to transmit the type of feedback that affects the creatures like a taser to a toddler.
The source of the signal is an island and the nearest dock is barely a day away, so Regan packs her shit up and valiantly storms off to try and change their fates while a panicked Evelyn begs Emmett to bring her back while she sources more supplies that will help keep her baby’s cries hidden. However, the family have barely left their house in over a year which means the world outside their valley is very different to what they remember and the creatures turn out to be not the only threat that exists in this twisted new world.
Upon discovering that A Quiet Place Part 2 was just as moving, smart and downright nerve shredding as it’s predecessor, I immediately unleashed an exhale of relief that no doubt would have had every blind creature in the area scrambling toward my location if the scuttling shits actually existed; because the first A Quiet Place stands as one of the greatest cinema experiences on recent times. Velociraptor style stalking scenes merged with a family struggling to communicate metaphorically and physically after the death of their youngest forged a movie that relentlessly tugged on your heartstrings as it yanked at your nerves and I was drooling at discovering what was going to happen next to the beleaguered Abbott family. Thankfully it’s worth the wait and while some changes to the status quo may mean it has a lesser impact than it’s opening chapter, all the pieces that makes this world work are still there.
With the tragic rending to death of John Krasinski’s father figure Lee, the family finds themselves now all moving in different directions and with the introduction of Cillian Murphy’s Emmett (playing catch up with the established cast by utilising those deep, watery eyes to haunting effect) we get an unavoidable sidelining of Emily Blunt’s granite-willed matriarch in favour of her vastly different kids. Millicent Simmonds’ Regan essentially hijacks Murphy to go on an exciting Last of Us style adventure while effortless staking her claim to being this franchise’s MVP by a country mile and her journey to guilt ridden outcast to defiant saviour of humanity makes you ravenously hunger for whatever future movies may have in store for her next. On the other hand, Noah Jupe’s timid Marcus has regressed even further from the first film and is now a borderline nervous wreck (watching your father get butchered by a giant, armoured sea monkey and getting your ankle shattered will do that, I guess) and his many, potentially fatal, screw ups may turn some audience members against him, but it’s ultimately worth it in the end. While the kid’s arcs are clearly defined, that ultimately means that the peerless Emily Blunt is somewhat relegated to a secondary role in order to let the kids flourish but it’s yet another poignant nod to child rearing that the two movies trade in extraordinarily well.
However, breaking up the family unit may have raised the stakes in The Empire Strikes Back but here it ultimately fares less well as it only manages to defuse the best thing about the original, which unsurprisingly was – the family unit, but Krasinski is willing to sacrifice this by trying to show us more of this butt-whipped world by shifting things into a more Aliens style environment.
The rollicking Day One flashback is a smashing reintroduction to this world of bated breath and constant tip-toeing and the many scenes where characters agonisingly try to move around without banging or knocking anything still has the ability to make your nerves as epically frayed as the Hulk’s pants – I truly believe a climactic scene involving Regan climbing through a window while trying to avoid a cornucopia of potentially clattery objects has the ability to cause actual cardiac problems in later life.
And yet, if I’m going to be brutally honest, there’s nothing here that tops the throat closing tension of Blunt having to silently give birth in that bathtub while she’s being hunted or the gnawing creepiness of that screaming old man from the first movie, but if the claims are true and the filmmakers are indeed hoping for a trilogy, then any middling issues can simply be chalked up to “middle film syndrome” and we can all look forward to waiting for Part 3.
Yes, it’s less affecting and the sheer originality of the first movie has dampened, but only slightly. You’ll still be immensely moved enough by the Abbott’s plight to make demands for a trilogy capper so loud, those monster fuckers would hear you from space…