Starring: Emily Blunt, Cillian Murphy, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, Djimon Hounsou, Scoot McNairy, John Krasinski
A Quiet Place Part II is a masterpiece of cinematic dread, complementing and expanding on both the themes and narrative of the original film, while striking a near-impossible balance between fresh stories and new perspectives on the horror we already know.
The original 2018 film was written and directed by John Krasinski, who shared writing credits with Bryan Woods and Scott Beck. The sequel places Krasinski in the director’s seat again and makes him the lone writer of the project, an opportunity to take the risk of total control and present a singular vision on film.
From the opening moments of the film, it’s clear that Krasinski is capable of taking on this responsibility and knocking it out of the park, with a frantic scene that contrasts the eerie, still opening of the original with a flashback to a time before the horror.
The film opens in the same location and store as when we first met the Abbott family, with small visual clues that connect the audience immediately to the previous story and the impending doom approaching. These opening moments set up essential narrative structures later on in the film, and the focus placed on blending these authentically into the film is genuine without feeling like forced narrative signposts.
We’re introduced to Emmett (Cillian Murphy), a friend of Lee (John Krasinski) who is joining the Abbott family at a children’s baseball game, and bear witness to the initial moments of carnage that would go on to shape the post-apocalyptic world we then return to for the remainder of the film.
Continuing immediately on from the close of the last film, we find Evelyn (Emily Blunt), Regan (Millicent Simmonds) and Marcus (Noah Jupe) and Evelyn’s newborn baby travelling away from the destruction of their family compound, and out of the valley toward possible civilisation.
After a gasp-inducing and gutturally brutal family moment, they meet up with Emmett and, after Marcus discovers a previously unheard radio signal, Regan concocts a plan to find the radio tower and broadcast her knowledge of the creatures’ weakness to the wider area. Regan sets off alone, but is soon followed by Emmett, while Evelyn and Marcus remain in a bunker to care for the newborn baby.
Saying anything else of the story would be to spoil what is undoubtedly one of the most intensely gripping and thrilling films in recent years, where multiple, concurrent storylines are interwoven almost shot-by-shot in a way that feels perfectly balanced and continues to dial up the tension equally.
Crucially, these moments are incredibly satisfying when they reach their conclusion, showing well-deserved victories and survival success that feels genuinely earned by the characters. The dynamic between Regan and Emmett is particularly stand-out, and fans of the acclaimed video game The Last of Us will find immense satisfaction in seeing the best semi-portrayal of that storyline played out here.
The acting from our central characters is uniformly exceptional, and the extreme contrasts between supporting characters (a barely recognisable Scoot McNairy and a wonderfully placid Djimon Hounsou) adds remarkable depth to the central four, showing the emotional and psychological toll and responsibility that has become ingrained in their every action and thought.
Complemented by gorgeous visuals, and underpinned by a similarly exceptional score, there’s never a moment in this film where the audience is allowed to feel bored or complacent, gradually attuning us to the focussed intensity felt by the characters on screen.
Lastly, but certainly not least, the film does a fantastic job of weaving American Sign Language and the experiences of deafness into the narrative, which will no doubt inspire countless audience members to learn their localised version of sign language themselves.
A Quiet Place Part II concludes in a way that honours the characters within both stories and provides immense personal gratification for the isolated storyline in this sequel, neatly contrasting the opening and closing scenes of both films and ensuring any potential plot holes or questionable ‘how?’ moments are authentically explained.
Beneath all the terror and the tension, and supporting the hopefulness of an impossible journey fraught with immense difficulties, is the message of survival and courage – where courage isn’t the absence of fear, but the perseverance to endure through it for the sake of holding on to what is most precious: our love for each other, and the enduring memory of that love even when all seems lost, and the joy and laughter of the world grows silent.
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