It’s been so long since I’ve had that exhilarating feeling one gets from experiencing a new movie with a group of complete strangers while inside a darkened theater room. That kind of communal experience is tied intrinsically to what I consider to be the ultimate cinematic experience. It's been far too long, and this film is just about as perfect as you would want a movie to be to mark your return to the theaters. This film feels practically designed to remind you why you fell in love with going to the movies.
A Quiet Place Part II is written and directed by John Krasinski, who wrote, directed, and starred in the first film in the series. Emily Blunt returns as Evelyn Abbott — the mother of three and matriarch tasked with guiding the family to safety in this post-apocalyptic world riddled with deadly monsters, possessing ultra-sensitive hearing, that will kill you when they hear you. They are joined this time by Cillian Murphy as their long-lost family friend to fill the void left by Lee Abbot — played by Krasinski —being killed at the end of the first film.
The first Quiet Place was an out-of-nowhere sensation, captivating audiences with its signature sound design, or rather the absence of any sound, period. Most crowd pleasers are ferociously bombastic, but this franchise makes it a personal mission to get the audience to be as quiet in the theater as the characters are in the film.
Most sequels can only ever hope to be half as good as the original — at least that’s what common knowledge would dictate. That isn’t to say sequels can’t be great in their own right, but rare is the day when a truly great follow up comes along that can capture nearly all of the special ingredients that made the first installment so special.
Krasinski’s direction once again creates that tension you feel in the pit of your stomach, the kind that makes you grab onto your armchair in anticipation of something very, very bad about to happen on-screen. These characters get themselves into some truly close calls with near fatal encounters and the team behind the film should be commended for how they are able to match the anxiety-inducing suspense that made A Quiet Place so notorious. In fact, there are some truly scary sequences that perhaps exceed some of the first movie’s most thrilling moments.
What really helps elevate the material is the terrific ensemble of performers. New cast member Cillian Murphy especially stands out as a desensitized man trying to reconnect with his humanity after losing everything. However, the heart and soul of the movie is Millicent Simmonds, reprising the role of Krasinski’s oldest deaf daughter, who takes charge in leading her family out of danger in her father’s absence. Emily Blunt is simply one of the finest actors working in Hollywood today, she can masquerade into any role regardless of genre. She may not have the most screen presence, but commands attention every time she’s there.
If there are issues to be had, it would be the inevitable comparison all sequels dread, competing with the legacy of the original. While the film keeps on par with just about every successful quality of the first movie, there can be a “same-ness” feeling to it. There really is not a whole lot to distinguish this film from its counterpart, it is a lot of the same over again but just the next chapter in an ongoing series. Both films conclude on exactly the same note, but both are handled very well. There was not any noticeable decline in the quality of filmmaking, but there also is not really anything new here to see.
A Quiet Place Part II cannot offer the originality it’s previous installment did, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth your time. There are many words to describe what you will feel watching this film, but if I were able to use just one, it would simply be, exhilarating.