The rare sequel that improves upon the original
I hated A Quiet Place. Absolutely found it ponderous and predictable. So, imagine my surprise that its sequel, which hardly changes up the formula, manages to thrill much better than John Krasinski’s smash-hit directorial debut.
Press play to hear a narrated version of this story, presented by AudioHopper.
A Quiet Place Part 2 mostly delivers on the promises Krasinski made at the end of the first film of a bigger, more combative story: of using Emily Blunt as more than a passive plot device. Think Aliens versus Alien. However, in practice, it often falls back on its reliance on claustrophobic situations and jump scares.
A QUIET PLACE PART 2 ★★★ (3/5 stars)
Directed by: John Krasinski
Written by: John Krasinski
Starring: Emily Blunt, Cillian Murphy, Millicent Simmonds, and John Krasinski
Running time: 97 min
Still, for a movie that works with all its cards face up on the table thanks to the resolution of the original, it captivates instead with detailed action set pieces.
Part 2 starts off with a curveball cold open that flashes back to the day the aliens first landed on Earth. This means Lee (Krasinski) is still alive and we get to see how the family managed to survive the initial panic. This is one of those major set pieces, with this sequence alone proving the maturation of Krasinski as a filmmaker since his last outing.
Flash forward to the aftermath of the first film as Evelyn (Emily Blunt) and kids pick up the pieces after Lee’s death. They’ve discovered that they can use high-pitched feedback as a debilitating weapon against the sound-sensitive aliens. This gives them the confidence to head out into the unknown, possibly to share their discovery with the world.
They travel with their new baby in tow, feeding him oxygen from a tank to keep him quiet, until they come across an old family friend bunkered in a massive, abandoned warehouse. We met this friend in the flashback, a guy named Emmett (Cillian Murphy, who should be in all post-apocalyptic horror films). He’s dealt with his own loss, which makes him hesitant to help Evelyn.
In this way Part 2 keeps much of the formula for familial tension and scares from Part 1, but is able to venture some much needed world building.
The sequel focuses much less on telling kids to keep quiet. I counted only four—maybe five—instances of people putting their finger up to their lips to shush someone. Could’ve missed one or two while eating my soft pretzel.
Filmed back in 2019, Part 2 somehow reads as a bizarrely prescient metaphor for a pandemic and the hope for a return to normal life—the need for sharing the knowledge of how to fight back against these creatures tracking eerily close to distribution of a vaccine.
I may be reading too much into that as someone who is just happy to be seeing films bigger and better than ever in the theater again. Please feel free to shush me.