Review: ‘A Quiet Place Part II’ sets stage for next big horror franchise

WHERE TO WATCH:

Nu Metro; Ster-Kinekor and The Labia

OUR RATING

7/10

This sequel to John Krasinski’s 2018 alien-invasion blockbuster was supposed to hit cinemas after its world premiere in New York in March 2020, but due to its pandemic delay, fans were left with no choice but to wait for their horror fix.

A Quiet Place, written and directed by Krasinski, followed the Abbott family (played by Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe and an infant) in a dystopian world where creatures with hypersensitive hearing stalk the land.

The action of A Quiet Place Part II begins with a powerful prologue in the form of a flashback that takes us to the day the aliens arrived.

DAY 1: ALIEN ARRIVAL FLASHBACK

Every sound seems to be magnified and feels like an assault on the senses – the thud of a car door closing, the rustling plastic bag at the fruit and vegetable stand…

Lee Abbott (Krasinski) is in a rush to get to the Little League baseball game where his family is waiting, so he cannot be bothered with waiting in line to pay for the items he grabs at the corner shop on his way.

But before he leaves, he notices the television, which has the shopkeeper’s full attention. A breaking news report is saying that something big fell from the sky somewhere. No one knows it yet, but their lives are about to change.

At the baseball game, there are even more sounds, children laughing, people bantering with each other on the benches and the metallic ping of bat and ball connecting. Lee greets Emmett (Cillian Murphy, Peaky Blinders), who appears to be a friend, effectively introducing and passing the baton to one of the film’s more important characters.

While the Abbott’s’ son, Marcus (Noah Jupe), is at bat he notices a fireball streaking across the sky and the game is quickly called off as the parents start to panic gather their children. Lee’s vehicle is still parked on the main road and the family decides to split up, as so often happens in the movies.

Marcus sticks with his mother, Evelyn (Emily Blunt), while the daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds) decides to drive with her father.

Before long, the aliens crash into town in broad daylight. Dozens of people are brutally swiped down within seconds and the terror-filled world is re-established, but with a twist…the sudden violence is a sign of things to come. Both Lee and Evelyn’s parties barely survive attacks by the aliens and the chaos that unfolds as people try to escape.

‘A QUIET PLACE PART II: LEAVING THE SAND PATH

Next, Krasinski pulls the audience back into the present day, so to speak, “Part II” of A Quiet Place immediately follows the events of the original movie, some 400 days after the alien arrival. The Abbotts are not afforded the luxury of a breather.

Evelyn clutches a shotgun while Lee lies dead in a field after sacrificing himself to save the family. The barn is on fire and the farm will never be the sanctuary it was before.

Despite figuring out how to hurt the aliens, the Abbotts are in more peril than ever before. Regan plots a course into the unknown, using her father’s maps, in the hope of finding survivors.

The family – Evelyn, Regan, Marcus and the newborn baby (in an oxygenated, sound-proof box) – walk beyond the sand path Lee laid to cushion their footfalls and head into the apocalyptic world.

If the original film was about the apprehension parents feel about bringing new life into the world, the sequel explores the act of letting go – which is terrifying enough for parents in a reality without bloodthirsty monsters.

Regan (Millicent Simmonds), Marcus (Noah Jupe) and Evelyn (Emily Blunt) brave the unknown in “A Quiet Place Part II.” Image: Supplied

The children are forced to grow up quickly and implement the things their parents taught them at the farm. Lee continues to influence the film beyond the grave, as Regan adopts his enterprising spirit and decides that it is up to her to save the family.

Soon, the Abbotts run into Emmett who is holed up in an abandoned steel mill. He is a changed man, who lost his entire family to the aliens’ bloodlust, and is reluctant to help the family at first, saying that there is not enough food and water and tells them to leave as soon as possible.

Emmett seems to have resigned to simply surviving day-to-day and has given up all hope of anything better in the future. He ominously warns the Abbotts that the people who survived the aliens’ initial onslaught “aren’t worth saving”.

Parallel plotlines and those jump scares…

The movie then splits into two parallel plotlines – just as it did during the prologue. Emmett sets off after Regan after she ventures out on her own to find survivors and sanctuary, while Evelyn and Marcus remain at the steel mill, which is soon infiltrated by an alien.

The sequel may not be as tightly wound as the original, but it expands on the apocalyptic world, which enthralled audiences in 2018, and creates an impressive platform for the franchise to build on.

The jump scares remain excellent and are almost welcomed when they happen, as they offer much-needed relief from the tension that builds up. The aliens have evolved, alongside the characters, they have become quiet themselves in order to hunt better and frequently pop up when least expected.

Two films into the franchise, we still do not know much about the creatures besides the fact that they love killing and hate noise. Mystery such as this always leaves room for further exploration and context in subsequent films.

Masterful performances

Overall, A Quiet Place Part II is a solid standalone film in its own right, with masterful performances by the young actors – especially Millicent Simmonds – that fans of the original will surely appreciate. It allows for nearly infinite exploration of the terror-filled world Krasinksi created.

Although there are no concrete plans for a third film, a spinoff set in the same universe – written and directed by Jeff Nichols – is slated for release in 2022.

Watch the trailer for ‘A Quiet Place II’ here:

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