A Quiet Place part II picks up the story literally minutes after the first one ends, and it seamlessly picks up the style and the edge of your seat suspense too. After a brief rewind to Day 1 of the invasion, to get the uninitiated up to speed, we are back in the basement of the Abbott’s farmhouse where Evelyn and Regan have just dispatched their first alien invader. From there the story continues as if we’ve just had a commercial break, with the terror and tension still dialled up to the max.
A surprise hit
A Quiet Place was the surprise sleeper hit of 2018, turning a modest $17m budget into a $340m worldwide box office with its original ideas and masterful storytelling. In the modern era where everything seems to be digital, from our social lives to our shopping and banking, from gaming as an avatar on Fortnite to playing poker with computerised cards at an online casino, the first film went back to basics with old school analogue tension and terrifying jump scares that Hitchcock would be proud of.
Much of the first film’s success was down to the quality of the acting. With very little dialogue, the cast had to use the subtlest facial expressions, movements and gestures to communicate the story, and Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Noah Jupe and the excellent Millicent Simmonds do an amazing job. Simmonds even pulls off a petulant teenage sulk without needing to scream shout or slam doors.
A reluctant sequel
Both Krasinski and his real-life wife Emily Blunt were reluctant to do a sequel, having been so proud of the unique and original atmosphere they created with the first film. That had been a film about family as much as it was about monsters, and (spoiler alert) with one of the family now gone, they worried about losing that dynamic. But they need not have been concerned.
The family strength that powered the Abbotts through the first film is stronger than ever in the second, as they are forced to leave the relative safety of the farm to find help and shelter. A one-time friend of the family, Cillian Murphy, steps up to fill the vacant father figure role for the kids, but thankfully they resist making him a surrogate husband too.
A broader canvas
With a significantly larger budget than the first outing, A Quiet Place part II has a far wider scope with several settings. Yet it never loses the smothering claustrophobia of the first, as the need for absolute silence dictates the family’s every move. It also keeps a healthy quotient of jump scares to keep you on the edge of your seat, once again preferring to ramp up the tension rather than just rely on CGI set pieces.
The family theme continues too, with the kids, Regan and Marcus coming to the fore in a way their Dad would’ve been very proud of. This is smart use of talented young actors who are more than capable of carrying the story between them as they apply Regan’s newly discovered sonic defence against the invaders.
A satisfying sequel
It is easy to understand the reluctance of Krasinski and Blunt to try to repeat their hit. Sequels all-too-often fall disappointingly short of the original. But A Quiet Place part II pulls it off with ease. This is no tired cash-in or weak imitation; part II is as strong, if not stronger than the original, expanding the concept without stretching it to breaking point.
If you want proof of the mesmerising success of Krasinski’s deft direction and Brandon Jones’ sound design, just go and see the film at a cinema. You’ll find that there is not a single rustling bag of sweets or crunch of popcorn to be heard as the audience sits spellbound. This movie turns even the fullest cinema into its own quiet place, and that tells you all you need to know.