A Quieter Place
When A Quiet Place dropped back in 2018, it took the concept of Bird Box (the book) and transformed it into a tense horror experience. Popcorn was uneaten in theatres, drinks sipped quietly and all eyes glued to the screen. It really was a unique offering unlike many of today’s bombastic, explosive blockbusters.
Of course, in true Hollywood fashion no IP can remain a standalone title and the announcement of a sequel was inevitably unveiled. The reaction was understandably split among movie fans, with many unsure where the film could go from its satisfyingly open conclusion. And whether it could match the tension-wracked horror of the first.
While the characters still fall into the same contrived scenarios as before, A Quiet Place Part II feels much more expansive and open than before. There’s a lot more world-building here, an interesting split narrative and some great new additions to the franchise. It’s rare to find a horror sequel that not only matches the original, it actually surpasses it at times.
The story begins in the past with an incredibly tense opening 10 minutes that sets the tone for what’s to follow. We’re on day 1, with a meteor hurtling down toward Earth and smashing into our planet. It’s a slow process, enough time for the Abbott family to try and flee. It’s not enough time to outrun our alien creatures though.
This prologue helps to introduce one of the film’s central new characters in Emmett, a fellow parent and struggling survivor. How the Abbott family meet him remains a mystery for now, as we cut forward to moments after the events of the first film.
Lee is dead and the family are completely torn, unsure what to do and where to go. When they spy a fire on the horizon, they venture out and decide to look for more survivors. Regan however, has plans of her own.
After uncovering a strange radio signal, she deduces that an island off the south coast could hold the key to salvation. After all, if she can change the frequency on the radio for other survivors to use her hearing aid too, it could allow humanity the chance to fight back. Evelyn however, just wants to survive.
After eventually stumbling into Emmett’s warehouse hideout, the family find themselves split over what to do next. It’s here where the story does feature some contrived plot beats, most notably dumped on Marcus. Marcus is annoying in this movie, to say the least, and his character constantly gets into all sorts of problems.
I appreciate that he’s only 12 but there’s plenty of pre-teens with their heads screwed on and in this life or death scenario, you’d expect a bit more composure. Alas, that’s not how the script plays out.
Of course, these sort of contrived scenarios have been a staple of horror films since the 80’s. In A Quiet Place Part II’s case, it’s the biggest blemish on what’s otherwise a very solid movie. And boy does this film have some tense moments.
The editing in particular really plays into this, with some gorgeous shots split between the different stories. Familiar motifs across the different plots feed into a larger whole, with fire and water both symbiotically used in the third act. The reasons for this soon become clear, and work well to tie everything together thematically.
In terms of shooting, the film has some wickedly good camera work. There are several smooth dolly movements, with the camera panning across as our characters walk. This not only helps with worldbuilding, it also feeds into the one element of this film that’s far and away it’s highlight – show don’t tell.
Given how much of this film is bathed in silence, it’s testament to John Krasinski and his team that the script is as intelligently written as it is. There’s no belittling the audience here with drawn out exposition – it’s all shown to us. I won’t go into spoiler territory here but there are several moments – one most notably including an air-tight safe – that play on this idea in the best way possible.
Of course, your experience with A Quiet Place Part II will ultimately hinge on your tolerance for characters making dumb decisions. If you can look past some of the character flaws though, this film expands on the lore and ideas of the first, producing another tense, creepy horror experience.
This 90 minute picture never lets up with its fast-pace, injecting some genuinely unnerving and well-placed jump scares along the way. A Quiet Place Part III cannot come soon enough!