A QUIET PLACE PART II – Review
So, we know that these new vaccines can work wonders, but could they also be a cure for “Sequelitis Interruptus”. Yeah, I made that up, but it should be a real thing that would certainly apply to this week’s big movie release. Way back in April of 2018 (ah, the before times), John Krasinski was the star, director, and co-writer of a weird hybrid flick (part family drama. part horror, part SF action) that become an unexpected box office smash. So naturally, a sequel was in order, and after some resistance, John K was back at the helm, with a release date of March 2020. I had already RSVP’d to the press sneak peek when everything literally shutdown, in those first few weeks of the pandemic. Would it be regulated to the streaming services? “No way!”, said John K, who insisted that we’d all get to see it together when things were safe. Well he, and Paramount, have kept their promise. It’s not the start of the month, but it’s still May, so we can say that the Summer movie season has officially begun, with a Disney prequel/origin story and a long (14 months) awaited follow-up that’s imaginatively titled A QUIET PLACE PART II…shhhh.
But as it begins, we’re taken back to “day one”, long before the events of that previous film. Perhaps this is really a prequel as Lee Abbott (Krasinski) brings some last-minute supplies (those kids need their orange slices) to a little league game in their quiet. almost designed by Norman Rockwell, upper New York state village. But with son Marcus (Noah Jupe) at bat, the crowd is distracted by a fire and black smoke trail piercing the perfect fluffy mid-afternoon clouds. Everyone scampers home with Lee and his wife Evelyn (Emily Blount) loading the kids into their respective vehicles. Suddenly all Hell breaks loose as those spindly, fast-moving creatures destroy the main street and its residents. Jumpcut to moments after the ending of the previous flick as Evelyn readies her shotgun while daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds) gathers up the hearing aid/boombox combo that produces feedback that’s almost lethal to the audio-sensitive alien monsters. As fire consumes their last home/sanctuary, the Abbotts, including Marcus and his baby brother, are on the move again. After lots of very slow, soft walking, they come across what seems to be a shuttered factory/foundry. Ah, but the trail is booby-trapped, causing Marcus to suffer a grave injury. But before the monsters arrive, they’re ushered into a concrete bunker (perhaps the long-cooled furnace) by Emmett (Cillian Murphy) one of the last survivors from their hometown. .He wants them to move on, but Evelyn pleads with him to allow Marcus to rest and heal. While working with the radio, they’re stunned to find a clear signal playing the same 60s pop tune nonstop. Regan uses a map to pinpoint its source, and, despite her mother’s objections, heads out on her own to find the station. Emmett reluctantly agrees to bring her back, while Evelyn makes the dangerous trek to find medical supplies for her boys. But as everyone splits up, how long before someone makes a noise that will attract the near-unstoppable killing creatures?
Blunt effortlessly slips back into the role of Evelyn, one of the silver screen’s greatest “mama grizzlies”. She is fierce with a capital “F”, her intense gaze broadcasts her devotion. Very tough, yet so tender as she takes time to comfort her still traumatized offspring. Jupe as marcus yearns to prove himself, but his injury frustrates him and sidelines him from fighter to (he thinks )burden or victim. But the Abbott that’s really straining to spread her wings is Simmonds as the fiesty Regan, butting heads with Mom as most teeens do, though she believes herself to be the only hope for the family (and perhaps humanity). And after losing her adored papa, she tries to push back on her terror in order to be his avenger. Murphy proves to be a terrific addition to the saga, as we can see his struggle to hang on to his humanity, despite his own catastrophic losses. Though he rescues the Abbotts, they somehow free him from a future of selfishness. Though not seen till the story’s final act, Djimon Hounsou makes a strong impression as another traveler offering a hand and good advice. Flipping things around, it’s great to see Krasinski back as the patriarch Lee if only for the brief prologue, giving us a glimpse of the pre-disaster dad, and reminding us of the loss that will also haunt his family.
But this time out, Krasinski is mostly behind the camera, directing from his own script, building on the characters and situations created by writers Scott Beck and Bryan Woods. He creates enormous tension when the Abbotts venture out, be it the dead of night or a sun-drenched morning. The slightest murmur and the demon hordes are mere inches away. Much of the film’s power hinges on the sound team, who more than match their impressive work from the original (last year’s Oscar-worthy work on THE SOUND OF METAL comes very close). And somehow the spider-like alien beasties are more impressive, as we get to view them a tad more closely, their flared faces seeming more of a mix of blooming flower and angry reptile, so big kudos to those CGI creature creators. But this sequel mainly works due to John K’s vision. He’s avoided the pitfalls of most non-franchise follow-ups, not rehashing the “best of the first”, but expanding on the family dynamic and opening up this savage new world that they try to navigate. And much like many post-apocalypse thrillers (especially TV’s “The Walking Dead”), the Abbotts learn that the other humans are just as monstrous as the alien invaders. But there are the added emotions involved, as the adults must deal with their children embracing adulthood, and knowing when to step aside. This may not quite be the cinema “home run” from 2018, but Krasinski and crew have delivered a solid triple. A tightly muffled hurray for A QUIET PLACE PART II, it’s more horror and heart. Well worth the wait.
3 Out of 4
A QUIET PLACE II opens in theatres everywhere on Friday, May 28, 2021.