'A Quiet Place Part II' Movie Review: Horrifically Relevant
Following up the beloved first installment, John Krasinski returns to direct A Quiet Place Part II, set in a world invaded by noise-sensitive creatures. Starring Millicent Simmonds, Emily Blunt, and Noah Jupe, the film centers around a tight-knit family desperately struggling to survive after the death of Krasinski's Lee Abbott at the conclusion of Part I. So, how does this highly-anticipated sequel compare to the original?
Drawing inspiration from masters of suspense like Hitchcock and Speilberg, Krasinski expands on a world that feels strangely more relevant than ever, due in no small part to the pandemic. Obviously, while no monsters were threatening the population (although it may have felt like it at times), the atmosphere is grimly akin to what the world has experienced over the past year. As a result of that familiarity, the importance of key themes such as family togetherness and perseverance end up being that much more impactful. The brilliant opening of the film lends itself quite well to the development of the franchise's lore in the form of a flashback; but also sets up the events that push Part II's story forward.
Mere minutes after the first frame it becomes clear that Krasinski and Blunt's push for a theatrical-exclusive window had a distinct reason behind it. Without the powerful sound systems of modern cinemas, this film would be a shadow of itself. Much like the first movie, the audio mixing is nothing short of dumbfounding, especially through the enveloping deep rumble used to authentically represent the hearing of Millicent's deaf character Regan; which is seamlessly weaved into the story to create suspense and further develop her.
Although the characters find themselves taking steps into a larger world, the overall narrative is more of the same. Luckily the trope doesn't feel stale in the least, chiefly because of the introduction of new survivors, and the uncertainty of their morality provides for some captivating story beats. Naturally, these characters are brought to life by their strong portrayals, particularly those of Simmonds, Blunt, and newcomer Cillian Murphy; Each able to convey immense emotion, despite the majority of the film being filled with silence.
Another strong suit of A Quiet Place Part II is the immersion of this troubling world. Krasinski's meticulous direction makes heavy use of wide shots to portray the emptiness of the once-populated society; juxtaposed with the claustrophobic tight shots of enclosed spaces, the sets gain a feeling of life. Through this development, Krasinski ensures that even in triumphant moments it’s not lost that this world is in immense turmoil, and in turn, victories are put into perspective.
Another aspect worth noting is the use of the increased budget of the second entry. The ILM-animated creatures are now confidently shown in broad daylight, something that was naturally absent from the first installment due to the mere $15 million budget. Speaking of ILM, a comparison to another film that jumps to mind is Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Not only is it a significant improvement over the first in the series, but it very much feels like a middle chapter in a trilogy and leaves the audience hungry for more.
Shockingly enough, the only real issue with the movie is Marco Beltrami's soundtrack. So much of a horror film relies on sound to create tension, but the same musical motif was repeated constantly throughout the runtime. Not only did it remove from some of the immersion, but it made the situations feel less real.