A QUIET PLACE PART II

Reviewed by GREG KING

Director: John Krasinski

Stars: Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, Cillian Murphy, Djimon Hounsou, John Krasinski.

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Released in 2018 A Quiet Place was a superior mix of sci-fi and horror that marked a solid feature film directorial debut for John Krasinski (best known for his role in the tv sitcom The Office). Krasinski gave us an unusual but solid premise, and A Quiet Place proved to be a surprise hit at the box office. Not surprisingly a sequel was produced, but this highly anticipated film found its release delayed by the COVID pandemic. A Quiet Place Part II is a worthy follow up.

This sequel takes up the story moments after the end of the original. The surviving members of the Abbott family are forced to leave their home and find sanctuary elsewhere. Evelyn (Emily Blunt) cradles her newborn baby in one arm and a shotgun in the other while leading her deaf daughter Regan (Milicent Simmonds) and son Marcus (Noah Jupe) to safety in an abandoned industrial factory. There they encounter Emmett (Cillian Murphy, from Peaky Blinders, etc), their former neighbour and survivalist who has been hiding out there. He has turned an old furnace into a makeshift panic room. Emmett is initially reluctant to share his safe space with the Abbott family.

Regan believes that her hearing aid amplifier device holds the key to defeating the creatures and sets out with a decidedly cynical Emmett to reach a distant island which seems to be inhabited by survivors and may offer a safe haven for the family. This is a dangerous journey through a ruined landscape that is fraught with danger in which they encounter some of the worst in human nature. Meanwhile Evelyn and the injured Marcus try to remain safe in the foundry with the nasty creatures still prowling around.

Krasinski again returns to the director’s chair, and here he expands upon the apocalyptic world that he created in the original. Although here he offers a sense of hope. Again, the film relies on periods of silence to build a sense of suspense, while Marco Beltrami’s score works to create an uneasy atmosphere. Krasinski effectively ratchets up the suspense here while he takes the central characters in new directions that challenge them and their tight knit family dynamic. He creates two narrative strands, and wisely puts much of the focus on the Abbott children, which gives the material a strong emotional heart.

But surprisingly he has opened the film with a brief prologue that takes us back to day one, and the arrival of the creepy blind insect like creatures with a highly attuned sense of hearing who ravaged their hometown in mere minutes. This prologue fills in the backstory that was denied us in the first film. It includes a breathtakingly audacious and carefully choreographed sequence that was apparently shot in one take. And the creatures, with their rapid pace and disturbing clicking sound are even more frightening here. Krasinski incorporates a few genuinely effective shocks along the way and there are a couple of tight, taut set pieces.

Krasinski draws solid performances from his two young actors in particular. Simmonds brings a mix of strength and resilience to her performance as Regan who has matured and grown in confidence due to her experiences. She makes for a plucky teen heroine and gives the material a strong focus. Jupe (from Wonder, etc) again proves he is one of the better young actors of his generation, and he brings emotional depth to his performance as Marcus who also finds hitherto unknown reserves of courage. And although her role here is a tad smaller than in the original Blunt still has a strong presence that inspires hope. Her character ventures into town to find medical supplies to treat the injured Marcus. Murphy brings nuances to his role as the complex, conflicted, misanthropic and embittered Murphy, while Djimon Hounsou brings gravitas to his small role.

There is some nice production design from Jess Gonchor (who has worked extensively with the Coen brothers) and the film has been slickly shot by cinematographer Polly Morgan (tv series Legion, etc) who replaces original cinematographer Charlotte Bruus Christensen. There is also some impressive sound design from Ethan Van der Ryn and Erik Aadahl, while the creature design from the ILM special effects factory is superb.

★★★★

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