John Krasinski’s long-delayed sequel to his monstrously successful 2018 horror film A Quiet Place is finally arriving in theaters, after a year and change of delays due to the seemingly never ending COVID-19 pandemic. But Paramount and Krasinski are hoping this’ll be the one to get people to want to venture outside of their comfort zones and see a movie projected again. I’ve been going since they initially reopened locally, so the question of whether or not to go back to the movies was never an issue for me, but do I think A Quiet Place Part II will be the film to save movie theaters?
We pick up right where A Quiet Place left off, with the Abbott family being forced to leave the confines of their home after it’s destroyed by the monsters that hunt anything that produces sound. The family has just lost its patriarch Lee (Krasinski) and its safety net, but no matter – Evelyn (Emily Blunt) is ready to fight for her own life and for her family. They come across Emmett (Cillian Murphy), an old family friend who is a hardened survivalist now and distrustful of new people that encounter him. Together, the Abbotts and Emmett must fight to survive.
Going into A Quiet Place Part II, I’d been told this was one of the best horror sequels ever made, from critics I trust – horror fans I trust. And I don’t want to say these people are filthy liars, because I do think there’s a great deal to enjoy here, however it’s simply impossible to replicate the experience of the first movie for me. Maybe it’s due to the unreasonable amount of hype, maybe it was the million delays leading up to this, maybe the woman in my cinema who brought in a screaming baby AND was unwrapping candy for practically the entire movie was to blame, but this experience definitely was not on the same level for me. There are a few main reasons why.
Reason no. 1 – this is almost exactly the same movie as A Quiet Place. In a sequel, it’s tempting to vastly expand the first film’s universe and to show all of the people afflicted by this alien invasion, in all corners of the world. I can respect this film’s choice to expand its world just a smidge, but as a result this film does almost the exact same thing the first one did. A lot of the same muscular, efficient, taut, tense filmmaking is still very much on display. I would argue Krasinski is a better director now than he was then (certainly a better screenwriter), but A Quiet Place Part II falls into some sequel traps I wish it hadn’t. Krasinski is gone, but Cillian Murphy’s character serves the plot in the exact same way he did. Because I guess we can’t have Emily Blunt singlehandedly save her family and fight for their lives. The movie thinks we need a grizzled, cynical, broken man to tell us what to do.
Reason no. 2 – we open on an extended flashback sequence to the day the alien invasion started and how events unfolded that day. From Lee and Evelyn’s perspective to what the kids are seeing, and it’s an absolutely masterfully crafted sequence you’ve unfortunately seen a lot of already from the trailer. It’s filmed very well and it’s thrilling and exciting and the film never quite rises to that level again. I wouldn’t say it’s all downhill after that point but nothing ever blows you away like so many aspects of the original did. It kind of feels like it’s playing the greatest hits of the original and afraid to try anything truly new. It even kind of ends the exact same way as the first movie. By which I mean there’s just no third act. We have some setup for a third part and end with nothing resolved. Sorry if that’s a spoiler but if you’re going to see this movie this weekend you should know that going in.
However, A Quiet Place Part II features a lot of the filmmaking promise Krasinski gave us with the first movie, and shows that he is also perfectly capable of crafting a perfectly safe, serviceable sequel. But this isn’t blowing my mind like it is for some. Emily Blunt’s performance is reliably great and child actor Millicent Simmonds is remarkably talented. I do appreciate that the child actors here aren’t constantly in peril – both Simmonds and Noah Jupe both have to save the day at various points in the story and are characters with agency over their own lives.
I ultimately walked away from A Quiet Place Part II having enjoyed myself, but also wishing the end product was riskier and had more to say. I would absolutely still recommend seeing it in a theater, provided you can find an auditorium full of respectful patrons who aren’t hell bent on ruining their fellow moviegoers’ experience. Is this the movie that will finally bring movie theaters roaring back to life? I mean, I don’t know, it’s as good a movie as any to do so. It definitely leaves you in a place where you’d happily return to the cinema if they made a third film – we have a lot of ground left to cover in this franchise. Maybe the next one will give me what this one didn’t.