John Krasinski really has something special going here with the Quiet Place franchise. The first film in 2018 was one of the best horror films I’d ever seen, and so, 2021’s sequel had a lot to live up to, and it did. A premise wherein alien beings have invaded Earth and they can only detect humans through sound, creating tension-filled scenes of absolute quiet building to potential moments of absolute sound waiting for the beasts to arrive, is brilliant for a horror film.
If you’re not holding your breath the entire time you’re watching A Quiet Place Part II, are you even watching? That’s my question because I was. The brilliance of the sequel is that instead of relying more upon the incredible acting of Emily Blunt as the mother figure or even John Krasinski as the father figure (in flashbacks), the film instead allows the two surviving children, Regan (played by Millicent Simmonds) and Marcus (played by Noah Jupe) to become the central figures and “step up,” as it were.
Regan is in a unique position to step up, as she’s deaf, but after the events of the first film, has figured out that her hearing aid’s frequency can stop the aliens long enough for someone to shoot them in the head. So, that’s the other brilliant aspect we learn in the opening moments of the film, which shows us “Day One” of the alien attack: The Abbotts were in a unique position to survive because they already knew sign language. In other words, they were apt to communicate without verbalizing.
And I have to give Krasinski credit yet again. As I mentioned, he handles those excruciatingly intense, quiet moments so well, but, as evidenced by the “Day One” carnage (and later the boat and island scenes), he also handles absolute chaos well, too, when the aliens are attacking with reckless abandon. It’s scary! To imagine those beasts just coming in and swatting everyone in sight.
Nope, I’m not done praising the film. There’s two other brilliant aspects enveloped into the sequel. First, is the casting of Cillian Murphy (Scarecrow from the first Batman film!) as Emmett, an old friend of Lee’s, who has survived up to this point. Cillian is the perfect person to cast in a movie without a lot of dialogue and sound because his eyes are so expressive and noticeable. He was so dang good in this film helping Regan to achieve her objective of stopping the aliens. And in so doing, he also stepped up. His own family had died and he was dejected. It was through Regan and the Abbotts that he found the courage to step up.
Secondly, I’ve seen a lot of people saying they wish there had been more “explaining” regarding the aliens in the sequel here. What is their purpose in being here? All they seem to do is enjoy destroying humans. Did another alien species send them to ravage the Earth, and then take over? Those are all interesting questions and theories, but what’s great about A Quiet Place Part II is that it doesn’t delve too far into the origins. Yes, we get a “Day One” scene, which is great. But we still don’t know much about the aliens. That’s how it should be! One of the worst instincts in the horror genre is to overexplain. What makes monsters, serial killers, creatures, and so forth, scary, is that we don’t know much about them other than that they are killing machines. I, for one, welcome the ambiguity.
Okay, I lied, a third item I want to praise: Noah Jupe was incredible in his moment as Marcus when he accidentally gets snared in a bear trap. It was played perfectly: He gets ensnared, but there’s a pause before Noah screams. That makes all the sense in the world. It would take a second for your brain to register the shock of it all. Then, he screams, and of course, as an audience member, you’re freaking out, just as his mother, Evelyn, is, because you know the beasts are coming. Such a great scene.
Overall, if you couldn’t tell yet, I loved this film. I have zero complaints. Yes, yes, I’ve seen people say the film felt like it ended abruptly, and sure, it is a pretty short film, but again, I’m all good with getting in and getting out without overstaying your welcome. Well-done, Krasinski. If there’s a third film, I will be there opening night.
I highly recommend going back to the 2018 film, if you haven’t seen it, and then going to the theater to watch the follow-up. You won’t be disappointed with either.