A Quiet Place Part II
A well-directed sequel struggles to expand its story
Filmmakers can sometimes be victims of their own success. John Kraskinski broke out onto the scene as a director with the ingenious hit A Quiet Place (2018). However, its big financial performance encouraged the studio to greenlight an unnecessary sequel. No doubt a healthy paycheck buoyed Krasinski and his original cast back who had already been quoted as reluctant to doing a second part. The sequel has finally arrived, delayed by more than a year by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A Quiet Place Part II (2021) picks up right where the first film left off. Our protagonist family (Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, and their infant) are forced to leave the wreckage of their home in search for new shelter after their fight with the sound-hunting monsters. They stumble unto a known neighbor (Cillian Murphy) who is reluctant and wary of welcoming them.
John Krasinski shows that despite being forced into the director’s chair again, he still has a grasp of his craft. His staging and direction of the film’s opening (which looks at the first day of the monster attacks) is thrilling, and his use of visual language throughout continues to be strong. However, by having the tight confines of his first film broken for a bigger and more expansive sequel, he begins to chart uncomfortable territory. The ingenious rules and intelligent characters from the first film are broken and dumbed down to lure thrills and tension. The groundbreaking use of silence throughout nearly the entire first film is disturbed with a louder and more action-centric plot in this sequel.
Original co-screenwriters Scott Beck and Bryan Woods decided not to return for A Quiet Place Part II, leaving the entire script in Krasinski’s hands. The American filmmaker struggles to formulate an organic next step for his characters and is constantly sending them on inexplicable and silly missions to bring about action and plot. The well-thought-out defenses and lives of the characters in the first film are broken up as they are forced to travel. Characters become dumb to step into horror situations and the sound-hunting monsters seem to get deafer as characters are forced to make more noise in fighting and running. Krasinski begins to fall into the potholes and cliches of zombie-apocalypse films, although he is still able to bring about a restraint and execution that many of those films lack. Even so, most of A Quiet Place Part II struggles to bring forth a sense of importance, and largely wanders to fill its runtime.
The spectacular cast all return here, but many are largely misused. Jupe is forced into the dumb horror character archetype, Blunt is completely wasted in a much minor role, and even Cillian Murphy, for all his strength as an actor, contrasts badly in his cold and tragic character with Krasinski’s warm and loveable father from the first film. A Quiet Place Part II is essentially Simmonds’ who was already a breakout in the first film and seems to be the only character who is allowed to remain intelligent and resourceful in this film. Her character seems to be what interests Krasinski the most, and it allows the young actress to shine through, it’s only a shame that it’s at the expense and not compliment of the other character threads.
In the end, A Quiet Place Part II proves to be another sequel that was unnecessary. Without the original screenwriting team, the story begins to fill with holes and inconsistencies, and the character development stagnates. Nevertheless, from the director’s chair Krasinski can put forth a visual language and formulation of tension that is still vastly superior to much horror and thrillers of today, and for that, still comes about as a good time at the multiplex.