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A QUIET PLACE PART II (2021) Review

Neil reviews Paramount Pictures A QUIET PLACE PART II calling it “an equally compelling, tense and captivating sequel.”

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A Quiet Place Part II (Paramount Pictures)

Written and directed by John Krasinski, A Quiet Place Part II stars Emily Blunt, Djimon Hounsou, Noah Jupe, Millicent Simmonds and Cillian Murphy. Paramount Pictures releases the film in UK cinemas on June 3, 2021.

Synopsis

Following the deadly events at home, the Abbott family (Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe) must now face the terrors of the outside world as they continue their fight for survival in silence.  Forced to venture into the unknown, they quickly realize that the creatures that hunt by sound are not the only threats that lurk beyond the sand path.

Review

There’s absolutely no escaping the originality of 2018’s A Quiet Place. The film, a blend of tense horror and Hollywood blockbuster, was a breath of fresh air to the genre. Writer, director (and co-star) John Krasinski was able to capitalise on the tense atmosphere to create a terrifying cinema-going experience. In returning to that world for A Quiet Place Part II it makes sense that Krasinski wouldn’t reinvent the wheel.

There’s no palpable attempt to artificially inflate the stakes. There’s no shark to be jumped in order to grab audience attention. A Quiet Place Part II simply continues the story setup in part one and does it authentically and organically.

Where Part II does differ from its predecessor is in filling in the gaps. Opening on the day the alien creatures landed on Earth, we’re treated to action-packed flashback. It allows Krasinski to appear in the film, albeit briefly, but also serves as a razor sharp reminder of all that has been lost so far. The contrast between the noisy flashback and the silence of the present day is stark. As a result Part II feels different despite merely showing us a different moment in the family timeline.

Picking up with the Abbot family in the present day it’s time to leave the barn. The added complication being Evelyn (Emily Blunt) now has a baby to protect and Lee (Krasinski) is dead. With the Abbots forced from the confines of safety and beyond their network of sand paths, Part II literally enters new territory. Some of that is morally challenging, for instance hiding the newborn in a box and anaesthetising its cries. But it’s also entirely compelling viewing.

Out in the wilderness the family meets Emmett (Cillian Murphy), a former neighbour who has lost his son and wife. Now living in the nearby steelworks, Emmett provides a source of connective tissue between films. Similarly to Lee, Emmett has been lighting signal fires to catch the attention of local survivors. However this also provides a point of conflict as Emmett is forced to admit he never considered rescuing the Abbott family.

Whilst seeking refuge at the steelworks, the Abbotts pickup a radio signal which confirms a nearby settlement of survivors. The discovery kicks off a series of events which carry the narrative to another open, yet satisfying, conclusion. Part II easily feels like the middle of a sprawling trilogy. However it never feels predictable and there’s no signposting for where any hypothetical part three could end up. There are a number of potential avenues of story still to explore and it’s exciting not knowing which of those it may take.

Back in the here and now there is still the ever present threat from the aliens. A Quiet Place Part II pits the Abbotts against the aliens on a number of occasions. Sometimes as a family. Other times in one-on-on scenarios. Krasinski’s story boats a wider variety of setups which again feel organic and authentic to his world. It’s impressive how little there is a feeling of pressure on the story to go bigger this time around.

Part II diversifies its storytelling by separating members of the family. For Evelyn it’s a mission to protect her children. Similarly for Marcus (Noah Jupe) it’s about protecting his new sibling and facing his fears. The standout of Part II is Regan (Millicent Simmonds). Along with Emmett, she journeys to the surviving colony to use her newfound weapon against the aliens.

The cross-cutting plot strands function together effortlessly. Krasinski amplifies this by rapidly cutting between the three as they culminate in a moment of strength for our characters. Visually representing humanity rising up against the aliens via what is a truly terrific cast of characters and actors.

Simmonds is simply captivating. More so, her portrayal of Regan transcends her real-life disability to prove it is by no means a disadvantage. It’s positive representation in its purest and most successful form. Her relationship with Emmett becomes a centre-point for the film. It allows Murphy to move beyond his role as a de facto replacement for Krasinski’s selfless Lee.

Blunt is equally brilliant as the worn out Evelyn. Her steely glare is the dependable sense of strength Part II needs to prove its conviction. With a solid actor like Blunt carrying over from part one, it allows Krasinski to develop those around her.

The series’ pesky aliens remain a looming threat throughout. In other words, without the need to establish their role, the aliens are simply an antagonist in the Abbott family journey. Visual effects remain on point throughout and still bring a sense of horror to proceedings. With Regan now in control of a local broadcast station only one question remains… where do we go from here?

Verdict

A Quiet Place Part II is strikingly measured in its response to its predecessors success. Capitalising on all of its accomplishments to create an equally compelling, tense and captivating sequel.


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