“There’s nothing left.”
At the end of the first film back in 2018, audiences were left dipped and drenched in the limitless love of a mother for her children. And from start to finish with A Quiet Place Part II, I couldn’t stop thinking about how the children have matured into co-parents under grave circumstances, evolving the story with more depth, a new protagonist’s point of view, and a stunning opening that’s as original yet as Spielbergian as Summer blockbusters can get. It’s as flawless a sequel as I’ve ever seen, and deserves the lucrative label of masterful moviemaking. A Quiet Place Part II is intense, emotional, gripping, and one of the most empowering films to come along in quite some time. It takes the time to really consider that maybe what makes us different is what makes us special; that an impairment, when seen from an enlightening perspective, can lead to the salvation of many. Seeing is believing in this noiseless world. This is absolutely, indisputably, one of 2021’s best love letters to family and the rebirth of the cinematic experience.
Because it’s so thoughtfully contemplated and tastefully executed, rather than following a strictly linear path and beginning right where we last left things, A Quiet Place Part II seems to feel an obligation to explain a bit the audience. Not through boring exposition or lazy dialogue driven sequences, but through an otherwise simple day in small town America before the creatures arrived, choreographing the set piece in small ways before delivering a dynamite conclusion amidst all of the chaos. It’s made up of a rural convenience store, a ball game at the diamond, a community assembling and being noisy just as they’re used to doing. And then they arrive. Life is forever changed and radios are silenced, at least for the time being.
An absolutely brilliant shot composition deftly blends the end of this ambitious flashback to match a moment towards the end of the previous film. Only then do the Abbotts, mourning the loss of their patriarch Lee (John Krasinski) and terrified by the addition of a newborn, trek outside the lines of their carefully constructed farmhouse, venturing to find anyone else out there in this empty void. What Evelyn (Emily Blunt) and her older children Regan (Millicent Simmonds) and Marcus (Noah Jupe) meet is at times damning and discouraging, helpless yet hopeful, and distills the power of the human spirit in ways many films can only dream of achieving. We can be such an adaptable species when we’re open to newness, and such a stubborn one when our hearts turn towards the coldness of apathy. Hope is the true harbinger for the possibility of the love and kindness and gentleness we’re so lacking nowadays. A Quiet Place Part II reminds us of these inalienable truths…of how soulful, self-evident, and vital they really are.
What I loved most about Krasinski’s take on this sequel was that, even when the picture sparingly adds backstory and flesh to the bare bones, it’s still a story primarily focused on building inwards first and outwards second. The scope is bigger, but it rarely goes outside a country mile until it has to. There are more characters, but they never over accumulate either. We meet Emmett (Cillian Murphy, an otherworldly emotive talent), an old family friend whose grief and experience with feral folks silently walking the land have rendered him callous and hard. He remains redeemable though. And there’s the island man (Djimon Hounsou), whose neighborly and warm character is sorely underused yet helps reinforce the instability of this unsteady existence. Anything can happen at anytime to anyone. We care about every character, every intonation and action, and know what the cost will be when the rules aren’t followed. A Quiet Place Part II is a stunning feat of writing though, and it knows how to break its own rules to great dramatic effect. It left me tearfully weeping. Not out of sadness, but swimming in a tangible oasis of hope. I’m not sure we can survive without it.
There are thoughtfully slow reveals fueled by Marco Beltrami’s string heavy score, visceral jump scares, and man eating monster moments you’ll definitely feel in the deepest pits of your belly. There are brief laughs, some heavily calculated and agonizing screams, and a few baby cries for good measure. All of which add depth and heft to this incredibly light and bulldozing blockbuster, which graduates the story from a state of grief to a sought out plain of acceptance. A Quiet Place Part II is a passing of the torch, letting the truly magnificent Millicent Simmonds (who gets her own brief Ripley moment) take center stage, and the rousing final minutes are the most emotional I’ve felt during a film this year. It’s a reassurance that not only are the kids alright without their dad, but that they are the beautifully jejune ones who will become the protectors in all of the ways they learned from him, and that we as a species are worth saving. I loved every single second of this sequel.
“There are people out there. People worth saving.”
Rating: 5 out of 5