John Krasinski‘s A Quiet Place was something of a breakout hit when it was released in 2018. A low-budget, self-contained thriller, the film went on to make gangbusters at the box office and a sequel seemed almost inevitable, regardless of whether it was justified or not. Delayed over a year since its intended release, A Quiet Place Part II feels very much like an attempt to make lightning strike twice, and a huge creative risk for Krasinski as a writer/director. If Part II flops, it not only hurts the chances of future instalments but also the audience’s feelings on Part I in hindsight. It’s a tricky tightrope to walk, but thankfully Krasinski has pulled it off: A Quiet Place Part II is a worthy successor to the original, and a strong horror film in its own right.
As the marketing for Part II has avoided any and all spoilers to a spectacular extent, it would be a shame to ruin the story of the film, but needless to say that, after an exciting flashback prologue, the film kicks off soon after the ending to the first (although the cliffhanger ending of the creatures rushing towards the farm is largely ignored) with the Abbott family packing up and attempting to find a new place to live. On their wanderings they encounter Emmett (Cillian Murphy), a fellow survivor of the mysterious attack who begrudgingly agrees to help them evade the creatures and find a new home.
The first twenty to thirty minutes of A Quiet Place Part II is a spectacular set-up, dripping with atmosphere and cloaked with a constant tension that rarely lets up over the movie’s 97 minute running time. This may not be a gory bloodbath sort of horror film, but the suspense (bolstered by an Oscar-worthy sound design) is far more effective; I’ve not been in a cinema that quiet in a very, very long time. One small sound reverberates like an explosion, and the sudden movements of the creatures makes them particularly effective at classic jump-scares. Unfortunately, as the film continues, it does start to feel a bit clichéd: Murphy’s character is the gruff, loner survivor with a heart of gold; and the sequences involving the boat and the island (again, trying to avoid spoilers) feel very familiar in the post-apocalyptic genre. Thankfully when your film is called A Quiet Place Part II, the screenplay avoids an overabundance of expository dialogue, but it does lead to a feeling of predictability which feels a little disappointing after the shocks and scares of the first film.
While the cast are uniformly excellent the stars of the show are undoubtedly the younger cast members. Millicent Simmonds delivers a heartbreakingly believable performance that completely sells the emotional weight of the film, whilst Noah Jupe is shaping up to be an incredibly talented actor. Both are absolutely superb, and hold their own against the always-excellent Emily Blunt and Cillian Murphy. John Krasinski makes a welcome if brief return in the film’s prologue, as well as handling the film’s direction very well. I love some classic match cuts, or cutting on action, and A Quiet Place Part II is full of them; the way the film cuts between the three leads as they’re hunted by the creatures is terrific, and helps to keep the pace up.
Overall, A Quiet Place Part II is a really strong follow-up to the original. It may not feel quite as fresh, and the slightly clichéd story beats in the second half are a little annoying, but nonetheless it remains a great watch, and well worth seeing in the best format available. It looked and sounded amazing in IMAX (particularly with sound design that effective), so if you can afford the upgrade, its well worth it. I wouldn’t be too surprised if we’re sitting down to watch A Quiet Place Part III in two or three years’ time…