MPAA Rating: PG-13/Genre: Horror/ Stars: Emily Blunt, Cillian Murphy, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, Djimon Hounsou, John Krasinski, Scoot McNairy, Wayne Duvall, Zachary Golinger, Dean Woodward/Runtime: 97 minutes
I think it’s safe to say that the conclusion of actor/ film helmer John Krasinski’s 2018 novel slice of cinematic pie A Quiet Place is one that has been really intriguing to me since the very first time I saw this movie in theaters a million years ago (more like 3, but in all fairness COVID has really taken the concept of time and thrown it for a serious loop). At any rate, the reason this conclusion has always been so intriguing to me because it somehow manages to function as both an ending that is fairly satisfying as well as a quite potent and riveting cliffhanger in the best sense of the word. This is because when looking at it from one perspective, the ending really leaves you with the impression that our heroes have found a method to help the human race thwart and annihilate the brutal alien menace that has as of late decimated Earth. At the same time, there is also the way of looking at things which seems to hint that this triumph is most definitely not guaranteed especially when engaged in combat against a nemesis as speedy, brutal, and strong as the one the film introduces us to. Thus whilst you are able to find yourself able to conjure up just how you feel the rest of this particular narrative might work itself out, you are also left with this nagging feeling that everything will end “happily ever after”. Indeed it really is quite the odd mix to be sure, but it manages to operate quite beautifully for a slice of cinematic pie that came to the world with its writer/director/star completely devoted to the idea of not wanting to give audiences a sequel/follow-up of any kind. However three years later and we are now getting the sequel we never thought we’d get in the form of A Quiet Place: Part II and it has managed to contribute a fair number of wrinkles of its own to how the first one wrapped things up. This is due in no small part to the fact that whilst the first movie really gave you, the movie goer free reign to figure out for yourself how the story played out beyond its ending, this slice of cinematic pie is saddled with the task of making those moments you may (or may not) have envisioned canon. Yet whilst this is a task that the film is able to do phenomenally well, especially when it comes to its cast of characters, thrills and chills, and continued organic world building, there is also an odd little caveat that comes to play. A caveat that takes the form of the fact that this narrative doesn’t always seem to construct itself on what has already been set up, but more or less like a second half to the original that got lost 3 years ago and has since been restored and ready to present to moviegoers worldwide. Yet even with that in play make no mistake dear reader: this is still one intense, riveting, visceral thrill ride that is performed extraordinarily well in front of the camera to say nothing of the fact that it is also a true masterclass in how to make a cinematic nightmare behind it.
The plot is as follows: Scribed and helmed once more by actor/director John Krasinski, A Quiet Place: Part II begins its hauntingly riveting tale with a look back in time which permits you, the moviegoer to see for yourself the moment that the ruthlessly determined yet sensitive to noise alien creatures from the first film made their presence known on this lovely little planet that we call home. From there though, we are hurtled forward in time back to seemingly the moment the first film ended and where we also left our time we were spending with the members of the Abbott clan who were still alive. Indeed as a result of their homestead being in equal measure annihilated, torched, and slightly flooded out, we see that family matriarch Evelyn, children Regan and Marcus, and newborn baby Abbott find that they are really left with no options, but to head out beyond the parameters of their property and try to find safety somewhere else with their destination in mind being a camp a fair distance away that appears to have been lighting signal fires as of late. As this is going on however, we see that Regan, who the last film established is hard of hearing, is fairly certain that the updates made to her hearing aids that her dear old dad was able to design and develop before his untimely passing are integral to how humanity could ultimately eliminate once and for all our highly unwelcome brutal extraterrestrial visitors and as such has been trying to find the best possible method for utilizing it to its fullest potential. So it is that after a few days of perilous and quiet we see that our intrepid family is able to get to their intended destination, an old factory of sorts, and in the process manage to cross paths with an old family chum by the name of Emmett even if he isn’t really that happy to see them. A fact that may or may not be because he doesn’t have as much in the way of resources and because his wife and kids are tragically deceased. Suffice it to say that whilst Emmett has no desire to keep them around, we soon see that Regan decides to take charge of the situation and leave on a journey of her own. A journey that deals with the mission of, having heard about a radio station that is still in operation, heading there since she feels it might be the missing piece for her special device to work at full capacity. However, on the course of her journey we soon learn that Regan will soon come to see for herself firsthand that not only are there still a fair amount of people about in the world, but that by and large they all have the potential to be just as menacing if not worse than the brutal aliens who have all but taken over our planet….
Now right off the bat, I will say that behind the camera, film helmer John Krasinski does an absolutely wonderful job. Indeed Krasinski, as he did so brilliantly with the first installment back in 2018, manages to construct and execute a group of moments that will most assuredly send a chill down your respective spines to say nothing of being able to conjure up at least a handful of quickly stifled screams even if this follow-up at the same time isn’t able to get to the levels that we saw in the first one with particular regard to the moments involving family matriarch Evelyn giving birth with a creature roaming through the house or getting a nail through her foot and having to stifle her cries of pain and agony. At the same time, Krasinski yet again manages to showcase wonderful skill at conjuring up terror with these creatures both when they are stalking the prey and when they are charging straight at it. Heck just how these creatures look is in and out of itself fairly creepy. Perhaps the most oddly intriguing thing about this slice of cinematic pie however would have to be the degree of experience being shown and the amount that this slice of cinematic pie both has confidence in and also has regard for the movie goer watching it. Indeed it can be quite exasperating when a slice of cinematic pie feels like it has to overwhelm any dialogue present in a film with narrative exposition or insert a flashback that acts as an explanation for a wrinkle in the narrative as it occurs. Yet what makes this slice of cinematic pie so distinct is that it is able to discern that a movie goer is blessed with the ability to think for themselves. Thus when some characters choose to place themselves inside a furnace and then with post haste click a stopwatch, the moment isn’t followed by an explanation as to why, but rather through the utilization of quite ingenious context hints you are able to ascertain that it’s because this is a fairly airtight spot that does not possess much in the way of breathable oxygen. Suffice it to say that there are quite a few moments like that in this film, and while this admittedly isn’t really something that should stand out while watching a film, as you’d hope that it’s something that would be common enough for filmmakers to just start utilizing more frequently, it’s not, and John Krasinski deserves recognition for the job well done.
In addition, I also feel that the cast that is involved in this stroll through this by now familiar yet still quite nightmarish landscape are able to give us truly powerful performances. This starts with Emily Blunt who gives us yet another powerful performance as family matriarch Evelyn. Yet as powerful as it is, it’s also in many respects more of an evolution as well since not only does Evelyn do (and say) more than she did in the first one, but you also really get to see her as her own person in this. That’s not to say she wasn’t in the first one, but in all fairness the first one was more about Lee, the bonds he had with the children and Evelyn, and him trying to keep them safe whereas this one is about her trying to step up and take over in being the head of the family in his absence. Suffice it to say that it makes for heck of a performance. The same can also be said about Millicent Simmonds and her portrayal of Regan especially since, without going into spoilers, Regan is kind of the de facto lead character in this one. Indeed Simmonds does a wonderful job at continuing to show Regan grow into not only her own person, but also into a leader and a potential savior of humanity as well and she does have moments in this that are not only relatable, but also emotional as well. Finally I can’t talk about the cast without talking about the top-notch work done in this by Cillian Murphy as Emmett. I mean I have always enjoyed seeing Murphy pop up in things be it his delightfully sinister turn in Peaky Blinders, as Jonathan Crane in Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, a PTSD-stricken soldier in Dunkirk, or even as Jim in 2002’s 28 Days Later and here was no different. Indeed Murphy is phenomenal in a role that can best be described as Lee if his family had died during the events of the first movie and he was left all alone. Suffice it to say that Murphy manages to bring a wonderful air of resignation, hopelessness, cynicism, but eventual faith and belief to a part that in a lot of other actors’ hands could easily and tragically have been a one-note, angry guy vs. the world type character.
All in all besides the fact that I can guarantee you that you will most certainly notice the fact that the young stars have definitely aged from movie to movie despite the two supposed to be taking place mere minutes apart from one another, I won’t lie to you about one key thing dear reader: the slice of cinematic pie that is A Quiet Place: Part II is one which most assuredly will give off the vibe upon completing it like it was constructed to be viewed as a double feature of sorts with the first installment and in the process extend what was a riveting and delightfully novel 90 minute thrill ride into a longer, but no less riveting by any means whatsoever cinematic viewing experience. Yet no matter how you choose to look at it be it in the manner described above or as a mere sequel to one of the most original horror films of the past 10 years, I can promise you that thanks to incredible and quite chilling work done both in front and behind the camera, A Quiet Place Part II is both thrilling as well as one continuation of a nightmare you will want to see again and again. On a scale of 1-5 I give A Quiet Place Part II a solid 4 out of 5.