It was back in 2018 that A Quiet Place released – in what felt like the first original horror by a major studio in years – Paramount risked a lot with this original screenplay and an inexperienced director at that. Luckily for them the result was a joyfully tense horror flick that made the most of its narrative gimmick. Better yet, its unforgettable ending; with one of its lead characters (Emily Blunt) cocking a shotgun while staring directly into the camera – a cliffhanger that needs no further context. In my eyes the story was finished right then and there. Though one can understand that after seeing the finale of the first film, it’s natural to wonder what might happen to these characters; how they might survive the ensuing storm, and what the wider world is really like in this post apocalyptic setting. But the question really is… do we need this sequel? My answer is no, but I’m glad we have it nonetheless.
You know what’s harder than finding a big budget flick that’s an original story? A sequel that actually lives up to the first film. Well, look no further. Sure, when you get down to it, A Quiet Place was never meant to have a Part II, it was a singular narrative with a closed off ending that had no intention on elaborating any further – alas here we are, continuing the journey of this small family travelling across a desiccated post-apocalyptic world infested with monsters that can tear through solid steel if you so much as break a twig. This mantra follows through and there is absolutely no doubt that the chills and tension on display here equal that of the first film – an achievement any horror film should be proud of.
A Quiet Place: Part II is discrete with its narrative tactics; it does, in many ways, repeat some of the same plot beats as its predecessor, only with adjustments made to keep things new enough that you can confidently feel a sense of progression and growth with its characters. This film also banks on its performances more than ever, and by god do they deliver. Actress Millicent Simmonds commands a more primary role here as a deaf girl attempting to take more initiative since the death of her father, alongside her is her mother (Emily Blunt) who is just barely holding it together, trying her best to ensure her husband’s sacrifice was not in vain. We also receive a reserved but suitably powerful performance from Cilian Murphy – further supporting the idea that this franchise may primarily be held together by the deft hands of John Krasinski and the performances that keep you invested. The freshness of this film’s setting eventually wanes and what you’re ultimately left with are a set of characters that you feel invested in, and a relentless air of tension that stays very consistent. Not a bad position to be in, all things considered.
Krasinski has certainly developed confidence as a filmmaker and it is glaring on a technical level. Krasinski creates an intimate experience with the characters, capturing their vulnerability and establishing the tone as quickly as the first film. A Quiet Place: Part II gets intimate with its characters through its use of close-up shots and holding the camera at eye-line to capture their perspective in their surroundings. Director of Photography, Polly Morgan, cleverly plays with lighting throughout the film that strengthens the atmosphere and tone of the film; whether that takes place in colour-drenched rooms or pitch black candlelit furnaces. One of the key elements that allows this film to feel in control of its tension is in the way it captures the threat. This is done through several long-takes with the camera constantly moving, it doesn’t just capture the threat of the aliens but relays the experience through the characters perspective.
The recreation of the first film’s sets feel completely authentic that one could reasonably assume this film was shot back-to-back with it. While the overall world-building taking place in this sequel is lacklustre, the environments are creative and serve as a great set-up for action set pieces. An impression taken from my viewing of the film is that this universe has a ceiling on how expansive the world-building can go, but A Quiet Place: Part II takes advantage of interesting environments that toy with the aliens ability of ‘super hearing’ and complement its exceptional sound editing and mixing.
The utilisation of fast paced beats akin to The Flood levels in the Halo games paired with loud ambient bass noises, Marco Beltrami is able to capitalise on the tension on the scenes that are being played and elevate the tension through his use of score pieces. A Quiet Place: Part II, just like its predecessor, excels in its flawless sound design which this franchise is quickly becoming well known for. The film smartly interchanges between noise and silence to increase the tension of the scenes and is put to excellent use when we follow the deaf impaired Regan through her journey. Witnessing the world from her perspective and her reactions to her surroundings is an extremely stressful experience, as the cinema goes silent we are made aware of the threats surrounding her, which she is completely oblivious to.
Yes, A Quiet Place: Part II doesn’t quite match up to the first film, but it’s damn close. Do we learn more about this world and the monsters within it? No, not really. Does the horror change in any sort of significantly new way? No, not really. But, do we receive a thrilling horror flick with powerful performances and a solid visual-audio cinematic experience? Yes, absolutely.
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