John Krasinski’s 2018 creature feature, “A Quiet Place” was a surprise hit for fans of the actor’s previous film and television roles. These acting credits would not suggest the craftsmanship and directorial efficiency that shaped his almost-wordless thriller that was built on pulling tension and slowly building toward big horror payoffs. Here, Krasinski gives us a second helping of more of the same but does so without betraying the formula that scored his directorial success.
“A Quiet Place Part II” opens with a flashback to the day earth is invaded. The sound-sensitive aliens bring upon an apocalypse that wipes out most humans, other than a handful of survivors who manage to hide in relative silence. The prologue doesn’t reveal much about where these monsters come from or why they chose earth as their new home, but we get to see the lead family living their small-town lives in peace, moments before terror rips apart their community.
The film then cuts to where we left off last with Evelyn (Emily Blunt) after her husband (Krasinski) died saving their family. Her three children include the deaf eldest daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds), her son Marcus (Noah Jupe) and a newborn muzzled in a wooden box with a quickly depleting oxygen tank. After their home and resources were destroyed, they now seek refuge with an old friend of the family named Emmett (Cillian Murphy) who is holding shelter in an underground bunker sealed off by a steal, sound-proof factory door. Emmett is initially resistant to take on the added responsibility, having lost his wife to illness during the early attacks, but when the pre-teen Regan finds a radio signal that she believes may lead them to civilization, the two take it upon themselves to investigate the source of the mysterious audio.
This chapter of the story relies heavily on what worked for its predecessor. The scares and set-ups are nearly identical, the family’s motives are not wildly different and, in fact, Cillian Murphy’s role essentially fills the same plot mechanism as Krasinski’s now-deceased character. The writers did not try to expand this universe or challenge what we learned from the first go-around with these creatures, but there’s still enough juice in this scenario to keep things moving along with excitement.
Most of the satisfying reveals occur within the third act, and if you’re familiar with the tropes of survival horror, they play out predictably. If these closing events and the change of scenery had come 30 minutes earlier there might have been room to expand the mythology and integrate new characters, but, as it stands, the ending serves a somewhat rushed but satisfying showdown.
Krasinski’s talent for scene work and emotional, character-based action comes through with this no-surprises sequel. He uses cross-cut editing to show us different scenarios between the family members in various locations to good effect, and the stakes are always filled with tension. “A Quiet Place Part II” might not be the most creative direction to take this franchise, but it adequately fulfills the expectations of the premise.
Cassidy Robinson is a former Idaho State University student with a master’s degree in film studies from Orange County’s Chapman University. He is currently working as a media journalist in Los Angeles, California.