Director: John Krasinski
Writer: John Krasinski
Cast: Emily Blunt, Cillian Murphy, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, Dijon Hounsou, John Krasinski
Cinematographer: Polly Morgan
Editor: Michael P Shawver
A Quiet Place Part II begins with a glimpse of the pre-apocalypse world. As the Abbott family cheers their kid on at a baseball game, a meteor with the monsters lands and the onslaught begins. The family escapes — Evelyn (Emily Blunt) speeds and swerves through traffic, chased by a bus and Lee (John Krasinski) hides inside a restaurant, muffling a terrified senior's mouth as he prays in front of the sound-sensitive creature. This entire sequence is bracing and brutal. You know what the present looks like, so, when you see Krasinski run past staggered but fresh corpses, a heaviness sets in. The rest of the film doesn't pale but still disappoints in comparison. If the first film was the real deal, this just feels like its fancy cosplay.
The film then switches back to the present. The family, now with a newborn, shifts from their original refuge to Emmett's (Cillian Murphy), a long-lost family friend who has no room for anyone, even those he recognises. The film flows steadily up until this point — it follows the same tonal tempo as its predecessor. During a scene in which Marcus' (Noah Jupe) bare foot gets caught in a land trap, you flinch as he shrieks in agony. It is a clever if unsubtle callback to the moment when Evelyn steps on that nail. While the latter was a scenic knockout, similar sequences this time around feel like a mere ode to the prequel.
A Quiet Place fell way outside the norm of thrillers. It deftly grafted sci-fi onto the genre — quietude meant relief instead of anxiety. Almost every aspect of it felt novel — knowing that everyone's lives hinged on a quarter of a decibel was terrorising on a palpable level. What was innovative then appears repetitive now.
The story doesn't bloom and everything is thinly drawn — from Blunt's character to the larger universe we are introduced to. I understand that an alien who looks like a gigantic bat with tentacles is scary but Krasinski, as writer-director, did include calmer, more pacifying moments too. I never noticed the void that Lee left, almost as if Cillian Murphy was meant to compensate for the narrative fissure of Lee's passing. Even the people that the Abbotts encounter seem strangely out of place, from a gang of looters that look like Charles Manson's descendants to a community that's living in the utopia of a monster-less world. The film even hits a snag in the middle — lethargy is the price for every alternate bout of thrill and horror.
But despite the narrative shorthands, this film can truly get tense, to the point where you feel emotionally enfeebled. Noah Jupe and Millicent Simmonds, the actors playing the Abbott siblings, carry a bulk of its weight. The sequel is centered on the two of them — while Regan (Simmonds) leaves her family to confirm her inklings of a safe haven, Marcus is busy taking care of the newborn. Blunt and Murphy, on the other hand, have little to do — unlike the prequel, this is not Blunt's show but Simmonds'. In spite of a few such wrinkles, the film is immersive in parts — it continues to engage even in the plodding stretches. This sequel may not be a worthy successor, but it is packed with the same amount of sincerity and sonic intensity.
A Quiet Place Part II is playing in the theatres.