John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place II is a nail-biting follow up to the writer/director’s successful mainstream horror film series.
A Quiet Place was released in 2018 and was met with near-universal acclaim and impressive box office returns. Initially slated for a summer 2020 release, Paramount moved it for obvious reasons, with rumours flickering up later in the year that it may end up being dumped on a streaming platform instead. However, Paramount and the powers that be persevered, giving audiences a genuinely intense film-going experience, but at an unfortunate cost.
A Quiet Place Part II is a very effective, narratively spotty crowd pleaser. The first film worked almost solely on its purely genius premise: the world has been overtaken by a dangerous unknown force that will kill anyone that makes any noise, so every footstep and noise is given so much weight. This film takes that concept and goes the usual sequel route with expansive world-building by introducing new characters to the mix, almost overshadowing the first movie’s lead, Emily Blunt.
Blunt’s character has a lot of emotional weight to carry in this film, including a newborn baby making everything more complicated. However, this is pretty much all this character has going for her. She is relegated to a tiny and narratively unimportant leg of the story, making way for this film’s true, unexpected lead: Millicent Simmons. To say Simmons is the absolute heart and soul of this movie would be an understatement. Her performance is so natural that she brings a suitable level of fear and levity when needed.
Her story within this world is easily the most compelling as she is joined by series newcomer Cillian Murphy. The pair go on a dangerous adventure through the ravaged world to try and find other people. While this segment contains lots of tension, there doesn’t seem to be any character or story logic to their actions. They will enter a building or area for no reason other than to set up a series of annoying jump scares, a tactic used far too often and, unfortunately, very cheaply.
Though the first movie did have jump scares, they felt earned and not a crutch for poor horror filmmaking. Nearly every scary moment can be seen from a mile away in this sequel, which ruins any tension that otherwise could have been created through the atmosphere and the film’s incredible sound design.
The movie starts with a masterful sequence of utter chaos, explaining how the film’s deadly creatures got to Earth. This scene was so tense and brilliantly crafted that it’s almost a detriment to the rest of the movie. Nothing after it even comes close to reaching the levels of entertainment and fear that this opening sets up. That is not to say it is a bad film or even mediocre; it is a perfectly fine movie from an entertainment standpoint with excellent performances, especially from Millicent Simmons and Cillian Murphy.
A Quiet Place II will easily satisfy fans of the first film and fans of horror in general. With a tighter focus on well-crafted scares and atmosphere as well as a better plot to justify its existence, this sequel could have been one for the ages. However, the end product, while uneven, is undeniably effective and a perfect theatre-going experience.
On The Big Picture Podcast, John Krasinski stated that he originally did not want to be involved in this sequel, but the producer convinced him to come over and pitch his ideas to the studio. After three weeks, they asked him to write the story, with the idea that directorial duties would be handed over to other filmmakers. Krasinski finally offered to come back as director, jokingly suggesting that he was “Jedi mind tricked into signing on to the sequel”.