A Quiet Place Part II (2021)

6 Jun

Smith’s Verdict: ***1/2

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

Let me tell you right at the beginning–the best way to see “A Quiet Place Part II” is in a theater, which is why I’m glad it wasn’t released on-demand during the pandemic. I’m glad I waited to see it in a theater because it’s terrific.

I really like A Quiet Place, and I’m glad it set a new standard for new mainstream horror films. I was looking forward to “Part II” because I was curious to see what was going on outside the central characters’ farmhouse (where the first film mostly took place). The concept is similar to what “Dawn of the Dead” did after “Night of the Living Dead”–taking us outside the familiar settings to see how other places are affected by a terrible outbreak.

But first, we get a wonderfully executed and very chilling prologue in which we see the beginning of the invasion. You see how our familiar characters (played by writer-director John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, and Noah Jupe) lived in a normal world before all of a sudden, everything has changed…

It’s not zombies that turned the world to hell in this universe–instead, it’s apparently a bunch of beastly alien creatures that really, REALLY do not like sound and hunt/kill every sound they hear. (You can’t help but wonder how these things, if they came from another planet, managed space travel!)

After the prologue, which was a great way to ease moviegoers back into this terrifying universe, we flash forward to about a year-and-a-half since the initial attacks (and pick up where the first film left off). And, also similar to “Dawn of the Dead,” our main characters–mother Evelyn (Blunt), daughter Regan (Simmonds), and Marcus (Jupe)–learn that it’s not just the monsters that are to be feared in the outside world, which they (with a newborn baby in tow) decide to venture into. From that point on, “A Quiet Place Part II” is a delicately crafted, chilling, and even emotionally driven monster movie.

As with the first movie, a lot of “A Quiet Place Part II” rides on visual storytelling–expressive acting, excessive atmosphere, and carefully chosen dialogue. (Having many of the characters communicate through sign language, since Regan is deaf, adds to it as well.) When a sudden loud noise could trigger one of the monsters to attack (how many of these things could be in one area??), such as when someone steps into a bear trap and screams in pain as anyone would, it’s fascinating to see how these people continue living/surviving in this post-apocalyptic world of silence.

I mentioned the carefully chosen dialogue, and an example of this comes from a new character played by Cillian Murphy. We’re introduced to him briefly in the prologue as a seemingly mild-mannered person; he’s a totally different person when we see him again later. His few lines of dialogue carry many amounts of emotional weight. While I’m praising the acting, I was especially drawn by the performance of Millicent Simmonds as Regan, the deaf daughter–she’s excellent here. (Simmons is also deaf in real life.)

In “A Quiet Place Part II,” there are good scares, great moments of suspense, wonderful acting, nicely-done character development, and expert cinematography, shot with 35mm film. (And without giving it away, I also loved the ending.) With such great aspects in a horror film, it’s easy to look over the little things such as my constant questioning of how the predatory creatures manage to function–and I just enjoy a good thrill ride.

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