4 out of 5
Confession time: I like John Krasinski and I like Emily Blunt. I like Cillian Murphy and Noah Jupe. I am in awe of Millicent Simmonds. While I'm at it, I am a huge fan of 2018's A Quiet Place. I liked the fact that we did not get a huge back story, we were thrown straight into this world of silence. Normally in a cinema one has to put up with popcorn munching and nacho crunching but I remember back in 2018 how, after 5 minutes the cinema was silent. It was powerful and, as a horror film, had us on the edge of our seats. Back then there were not many jump scares, it was more peeking through slitted fingers as Emily Blunt's character stepped on a nail. A Quiet Place was a hit and pressure came to make a sequel.
On The Big Picture Podcast, John Krasinski stated that he originally did not want to be involved in a 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."
A Quiet Place Part 2 has a pre-title sequence that starts with the stark on-screen message "Day 1". I'm a sucker for that kind of dramatic opening. In the sequence we get to see how the creatures first arrived and teh devastation they wreak. The trailer features a dramatic sequence of a creature smashing into and overturning a police car. Time to strap yourself in. I also noticed that in the opening scene Krasinki's character passes by "Brody's Pizza," a nod to the character Chief Brody from Steven Spielberg's "Jaws" (1977)
As with Alien, the 2018 "Part 1" sets up the rules of the game and how people survive the creature attack and gives us the tools to defeat them. A Quiet Place Part 2 follows the formula set by James Cameron in Aliens. Krasinski assumes we know the rules and cranks up the action and the jump-scares. This is not a bad thing and moves the story on in an exciting world-building way. I suspect there will be A Quiet Place Part 3 and given the threads set up in Part 2, I can't wait.
The film opens, as mentioned on Day 1 and post titles, we discover we are 474 days on, the Abbott family are forced by events in Part 1 to leave their relative sanctuary and venture out into the world where they soon discover that the creatures that hunt by sound are not the only thing they need to worry about. For a brief moment I feared the film was going to go into Walking Dead territory but no, it stayed the right side of creepy and left us guessing.
Do you need to have seen Part 1 before seeing Part 2? Probably not but picking up at Day 474 the viewer is assumed to know what has happened, the significance of the signal fires, etc, so if you can, see Part 1 first. The house isn't in the best shape after the traumatic events of Part 1, so Evelyn (Emily Blunt) is forced to head out into the world with Regan (Millicent Simmonds), Marcus (Noah Jupe) and her newborn baby.
It's not only the bigger set pieces that make A Quiet Place Part 2 an expansive sequel as Krasinski avoids grounding the family in another single location. Instead, he branches out the action to follow three different plots, cross-cutting between them to ramp up the tension at key moments.
The approach might make you long for the tight focus of the first film at times, especially whenever it cuts to Marcus who is lumbered with the weakest story of the three. However, it succeeds in making the sequel unique as it manages to deliver the tension of the first film without being a direct retread. When they all come together in a gripping finale, you'll forgive any minor flaws as Krasinski crafts another terrific climax.
Regan's journey with Emmett as she tries to live up to the legacy of her father is by far the movie's strongest story. Millicent Simmonds effectively becomes the lead of the sequel, with Emily Blunt in more of a supporting role, and Simmonds rises to the occasion with a magnetic and powerful performance. She was great in the first movie, but this truly feels like a star-making turn.
It's through her that A Quiet Place Part 2 manages to land emotional beats to go with the sheer terror of its set pieces. The first film delivered a gut punch with the sacrifice of Krasinski's character, and Simmonds ensures that we feel that loss as heavily as Regan does.
Krasinski never forgets that A Quiet Place Part 2 is a horror film and keeps the well-crafted scares coming at a pace. The very concept of not making a noise is such an effective one that it works as well in daylight as it did in the dim of the Abbotts' home, and you'll find yourself holding your breath along with the characters.
It's why you'll be pleased that, as frustrating as the delay has been, the sequel was kept back for a cinema release. You just can't replicate the absolute silence at home and the incredible sound design wouldn't be half as effective. It's absolutely a horror movie made for a communal, big-screen experience, especially when Krasinski lands a wince-inducing moment that rivals that nail scene in A Quiet Place.
A Quiet Place Part 2 is still horribly tense and just as terrifying as Part 1.