A Quiet Place Part II first published by Sight & Sound, Summer 2021
Review: A quiet, all-American community in upstate New York – a ghost town really, with the clinking of Stars and Stripes on their flagpoles the only sign, and more importantly sound, of life. When Lee Abbott (John Krasinski) drives past in his pickup, and gets some water and oranges from the general store, it is clear that this is before the monster apocalypse of Krasinski’s A Quiet Place (2018), and the only reason for the silence is that most of the town is off Main Street watching a Little League game. Only breaking news on the store’s television of a cataclysmic event in Shanghai hints at what is to come on this, the carefully captioned Day 1 of invasion. Once these aggressive creatures, blind but with super hearing, arrive destructively in town, the narrative skips to Day 474, catching up to where the first film ended.
With Lee now dead, his wife Evelyn (Emily Blunt) moves her deaf daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds), son Marcus (Noah Jupe) and newborn baby from their farm, armed with new knowledge of the aliens’ sensitivity to certain frequencies. They join the similarly widowed Emmett (Cillian Murphy), and struggle together not only to survive, but also to redeem themselves and to find a new home – all without making any noise. With the monsters’ appearance and modus operandi now already well established, we see much more of the fast, spidery beasts here, including multiple sequences showing just how efficiently they can, despite their relatively small size, cut through people en masse (even if they always seem to slow down when it is the main characters being menaced).
This sequel’s other innovations include the intrepid teen Regan and even her timid younger brother being allowed to come of age and prove themselves the previous generation’s equals (or even betters) when it comes to dragon-slaying, and there is also the brief introduction of some feral land pirates and some civilised island dwellers to show the two paths down which beleaguered humanity might travel. For the most part, however, A Quiet Place Part II deviates very little from the formula that made the first film so successful: little exposition (or even dialogue), a careful refocusing of the viewer’s attention towards sound design, lots of viscerally intense sequences of deadly cat-and-mouse, and a Spielbergian preoccupation with the dynamics of family. While it is certainly thrilling for its duration, what you see – or hear – is what you get. For here, as in A Quiet Place, viewers will find little subtext to keep ringing and resonating in their ears afterwards.
Synopsis: Upstate New York. 474 days into an invasion by blind, murderous monsters with sensitive hearing, Evelyn grieves her husband while on the move with her deaf daughter Regan, son Marcus and newborn. Neighbour Emmett reluctantly shelters them in a factory. Repeat radio broadcasts of the song Beyond The Sea convince Regan that there are island survivors, and she and Emmett head off to find them. Captured by feral harbour dwellers, they escape when a creature intervenes, and reach the island opposite, where families live in safety from the creatures (who cannot swim). A creature drifts there by boat, but Regan broadcasts the hearing aid frequency which makes the creatures vulnerable, and kills the predator, even as Marcus kills another that is menacing Evelyn, him and the baby on land.
strap: John Krasinski’s survival SF sequel compensates with visceral thrills & unspoken family dramas what it lacks in subtext