Review – A Quiet Place Part II

by Aziz Abbas

No other sequel in recent memory has been as eagerly awaited as A Quiet Place Part II. After John Krazinksi’s debut horror flick captured the world by storm and news broke of a sequel, it seemed as though we had been tortured long enough with the Covid delays and cinema closures. But the wait is over, and the prolonged anticipation has been smashingly rewarded. Krasinski has masterfully created a story which works on every level and extends the thrills to a naturally evolving conclusion. This sequel is far from contrived in terms of plot which often occurs in sequels of this genre. 

The suspense and thrills have been delivered in spades as have brilliant performances from the entire ensemble cast. Emily Blunt returns as the recently widowed Evelyn Abbott along with the brilliant Noah Jupe and scene-stealing Millicent Simmonds as Evelyn’s children Marcus and Regan.

The film commences surprisingly not where we left off from the last film, but from Day 1 of the invasion – following Lee Abbott’s (John Krasinski) footsteps into a world attacked by our familiar creatures with hyper-sensitive hearing. After an edge of your-seat opening attack scene, we are plunged into the moment we left Evelyn dealing with the aftermath of her husband’s sacrificial death and needing to leave the family home, silently, to seek help from other survivors. 

They make a remarkable and breathtaking entrance to the makeshift home of an old neighbour, Emmett (played perfectly by Cillian Murphy) who according to Krasinski is a “morally ambiguous” character designed to highlight mankind’s struggles in learning to trust another. The Abbott’s need Emmett’s help and together they continue their search for more survivors in the world beyond their own hometown. 

The journey to discover a safe haven is led by Regan who continues to demonstrate her bravery and intelligence in deciphering clues, developing survival tools and maintaining a fierce determination to save her family (as she believes her father would have done) – ably showing her hearing impairment is actually her greatest asset. Simmonds shines through the whole film and when together with Jupe and even Murphy there is nothing you can do to look away as they sign to one another and deliver superb expression and connection.

In an interview following the screening of the film, Krasinski outlined that he sought for the audience to develop a real affinity for the family and indeed the characters which would in turn create the intense drama in playing out the events of their survival journey. The performances and solid plot provide every opportunity for the audience to connect and feel their constant tensions. 

Krasinski also explained his intentions as to the purpose of the sequel. While the first film centred on parents promising their children they would always be there and showing how true it was, the second installment is about breaking that promise while also showing the importance of community and how the world should be helping on another, as parents do for their children. There is a greater purpose to humankind in helping one another to survive. While it is obvious the film had been completed prior to the onset of a global pandemic, these survival and unifying themes could not have come at a more profound moment in time. 

If the acting heroes of this film are Simmonds and Jupe, the technical heroes are the sound editors, Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn along with cinematographer Polly Morgan. With the first film nominated for an Academy Award for Best Sound Editing, Aadahl and Van der Ryn reprised their roles for the second film. While  sticking to a familiar formula in dealing with the creatures, they also upped a notch in their depiction of Regan’s experience with hearing aid feedback and dealing with even the slightest of noises in the deathly silence. 

Morgan has also delivered a brilliant screen experience in her use of 35mm film to provide a nostalgic, soft effect which juxtaposes the harsh impact of the invading creatures against a natural, familiar world. Her use of lighting is particularly to be commended, given the film’s considerable number of night and otherwise dark scenes.

If there were just one let down for this reviewer, it was with the sound mixing. Given the very requisite for survival is to remain as quiet as one can, any vocals must be whispered or else mimed or mouthed in silence. The whispering in the film often makes dialogue difficult to comprehend and given there really is minimal dialogue in this film, you do come out feeling slightly robbed of an experience or even let down with the limited script. Overall, however, the focus is on action, sign language and facial expression and these qualities overtake the occasional difficulties in hearing. 

A Quiet Place Part II is a thrilling experience which leaves you holding your breath and second guessing your decision to noisily reach for your popcorn or, heaven forbid, a handful of chips. You have been warned. 

A Quiet Place Part II opens in theatres in Australia on May 27, and May 28 in the United States. 

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