Benjamin Wollmuth is a writer who loves to express his opinions on literature, TV, and film.
A Quiet Place Part II
After a year of delays due to the COVID pandemic, the long-anticipated sequel to John Krasinski's fantastic 2018 horror film has finally arrived. A Quiet Place was one of my favorite horror films––and films in general––of 2018, so I was insanely looking forward to this one. I will admit, though, that I was a bit nervous. Why? Well, horror sequels are notorious for being... not up to par with their predecessors. I personally have seen some pretty horrendous horror sequels, so I'd like to say that my worries for this film were understandable. On the other hand, I completely trusted John Krasinski and hoped and prayed that this film would be a worthy sequel to the subjectively amazing 2018 horror film. Needless to say, my prayers have been answered, because holy shit... this film is by far one of the best horror sequels I have ever seen. Be warned that there will be spoilers ahead.
The Good Stuff
Where do I even begin?
Firstly, the performances in this film were fantastic. Emily Blunt perfectly exhibits what it would be like to be a grieving parent and wife in a time when perfect silence is absolutely necessary, as well as a parent who wants to keep her children safe. Cillian Murphy plays the role of a reluctant hero wonderfully. The children, Noah Jupe and Millicent Simmonds, masterfully embody the feelings of confusion many adolescents have as well as the want to show one's maturity and worthiness in a dire situation. Oftentimes, child actors can be quite annoying, especially in horror films. In this case, however, they arguably steal the show.
Secondly, this film marks the best directing I’ve seen from John Krasinski. One of the biggest positives of this movie comes in its establishing shots, which are shots meant to establish the setting in which the characters find themselves. A large chunk of the movie follows Regan Abbott, the daughter, as she journeys along the train tracks. There are some great establishing shots here, with one of the coolest encompassing a train wreck. However, we don’t see the full extent of this wreck––we are only shown what she sees, and she is at the forefront of every shot. While some may have wished to see more, this actually emphasizes the importance of POV. Yes, it would be cool to see the whole train wreck, but this movie relies on the point-of-view of its characters. It’s what makes the monsters so terrifying: we only see them when the characters know they are there. So, as breathtaking as it would be to see the entirety of a train wreck, if the characters are not going to explore it in its entirety, then it’s okay not to show it. It adds ambiguity and provides a more focused POV. Krasinski also wrote this thing, so to me, it’s obvious that he had an exact plan in regards to POV while working on the script. This man has a lot of talent, and I hope he continues to write and direct movies––it doesn’t even have to be horror.
Thirdly, the sound editing––just like in the first film––was on point. The silence made my palms sweat, and the breaks in silence, which were often abrupt, made me jump––whether that was intentional by the filmmakers is something I don't entirely know. The filmmakers––John Krasinski and, specifically, the editors––knew exactly when and where to jump from silence to noise and back to silence. Nothing was ever too overwhelming and all of the scares were well-done and never felt cheap.
But this leads to my next point...
This Is A Horror Film...
...and it definitely feels like one. As I said, the sound editing created so much suspense and tension. Hell, I would like to say that both this film and its predecessor are masterpieces in terms of suspense-building. They keep people paying attention––no one wants to talk during these movies because they are scared of making a sound. The silence keeps the audience asking, "What's gonna happen next?" Furthermore, the aforementioned POV allows the audience to feel what the protagonists are feeling. It's almost as if we are experiencing this post-apocalyptic world alongside them.
The horror of it all, really, is based around the idea that you never know what noise is too loud. The creatures are insanely fast and can hear from pretty far away, so being cautious is a necessity. The worst part is that it is human nature to make noise. We are a noisy race.
The film's overall sense of horror is masterfully introduced in the opening scene, which takes place on the day of the aliens’ arrival on Earth. We see firsthand the reactions of the people and the true brutality of these creatures. This––in my opinion––pushed the limit of the PG-13 rating. The only thing missing was blood. This is by far one of the best openings to a horror film that I’ve ever seen. Frankly, I think a whole movie about the first day of the invasion would be extremely fun to watch. However, I also love that A Quiet Place and its sequel gave us characters who had been surviving in this post-apocalyptic world for over a year. It made the discovery of the creatures’ weakness a lot more exciting.
But going back to sound, this opening showcases just how noisy humans are. When we are scared, we want to scream and cry. When we are anxious, we want to breathe heavily. When we move, we make noise. The opening alone would have made for a fantastic short film that could comment on this inherent noisiness. What brings variety to that inherency is Millicent Simmonds's Regan, who––like Millicent––is deaf, meaning she is great at being quiet. She is the ultimate survivalist in a world overrun by creatures that hunt by sound. She brings a sense of hope that humans can live on in this kind of world.
Do I Have Any Negatives?
I don't really have a lot of complaints here. As I said before, horror sequels tend to be much worse than their predecessors, so it's safe to say that this was a pretty ambitious project. Thankfully, it was executed quite flawlessly, and it definitely feels like a second part to a whole work. I am looking forward to watching the two A Quiet Place movies back-to-back in one sitting.
Sure, you could say that much of the plot could have been avoided if Regan would have just told her family about the island and they all traveled together. But where's the fun in that?
Overall, A Quiet Place Part II was a highly entertaining watch that kept me on the edge of my seat. With great acting, editing, writing, and directing, this film definitely stands out among the many pieces of horror-sequel garbage. I can't entirely say yet if I liked this film more than the first. That is something I'm going to need to sit on for a while. What I can say right now is that I absolutely loved this movie, and I'm so glad Krasinski succeeded in telling this amazing story.
With all that being said, I'm going to give A Quiet Place Part II a 9.5/10.
© 2021 Benjamin Wollmuth
Fellow Movie Watcher on May 30, 2021:
This review has made me extremely excited to go see this movie. I loved the first movie when it came out but I was pretty skeptical with the second one and how they could keep it entertaining. With those fears behind, Iill be buying my ticket soon!