I couldn’t have been the only one who was a little bit surprised when A Quiet Place burst into the over-saturated horror market way back in 2018. Directed by The Office alum John Krasinski, then known for his pranks and “get a load of this guy” looks to the camera, the film turned out to be a tight, emotional film that was as much about family dynamics as it was creepy monsters overrunning the planet. Taking the not so original idea of characters having to traverse in silence in order to avoid some killer entity (see 2016’s Don’t Breath), Krasinski still managed to produce a film that felt fresh and deservedly scary, utilizing sign language and tremendous acting from himself, Emily Blunt, Noah Jupe and Millicent Simmonds to tell the story while barely uttering a word. It was one of my favorite films of the year and remains one of my favorite modern horror movies to this day.
Although COVID did its best to slow down the release of the past year’s biggest movies, we have finally come to the film’s sequel. Being one of my most anticipated films of the year had, of course, generated a bit of hesitance from me. Time and time again we’ve seen solid horror films milked dry until they resembled a decayed husk of their former selves. Krasinski remaining in control of directing and the script gave me hope, but my love for the first film created a thought in the back of my head that believed it could never be topped. Knowing this, I had at least hoped that the film could continue to build upon its established world, bringing in new ideas while still utilizing the elements that made the prior film so impactful to begin with.
As a continuation of the story, A Quiet Place Part II succeeds in the realms of scares, performances and overall world building. Yet, the film can’t help but fall back on many of the story notes from the first previous film, treading familiar ground and offering little innovation or variety in the way a sequel should. The cast is expanded slightly, but the emotional connection that made the original protagonists so endearing isn’t as present despite the powerful performances.
Picking up right where we left our soft-stepping family, Evelyn, Regan, Marcus and a newborn baby abandoned their now ravaged farm home, following a flaming beacon in the distance with the hope of connecting with other survivors. While quietly traversing into a fenced-off area, Marcus is injured by a bear trap, but the family is rescued from the predatory monsters by a masked man. This man is no stranger, as he is revealed to be Emmet (Cillian Murphy), a friend of the deceased patriarch of the Abbot family introduced to us in an opening flashback showcasing when the monsters first attacked. Hardened by the loss of his family and the apocalyptic world around him, Emmet is opposed to helping the family due to his newfound distrust of humanity. While held up in Emmet’s underground bunker, Marcus hears the classic contemporary pop song “Beyond the Sea” being played on a radio channel, hinting that there are more survivors out there. Regan deduces that the song is a secret message, being broadcasted from a radio tower on a small island off the coast. At the behest of her brother, Regan sets out to find the island, leading Emmet to go and search for her as Evelyn tends to Marcus and her newborn.
Feeling like a continuation more than a sequel, the plot rolls into a believable expansion of the world that juggles several small side stories that allows each character to breath, though in a less connected way than the first film. Emmet’s introduction squeezes in nicely with the family’s dynamic, yet his character doesn’t bring much to the table when it comes to offering a new insight or perspective in the world. His distrust of humanity is understandable, but his unwillingness to help the main family feels forced, chalked up to his bitterness that the family never came to help him despite being in a very similar situation. Despite this, Murphy is hardly recognizable in the roll, with everything from his rural American accent to a slight hunch in his back working fairly well. Our returning characters continue to shine, with Noah Jupe somehow acting circles around his adult contemporaries. While his own personal story doesn’t exactly lead to much growth, the anguish and pain he broadcasts throughout the film is admittedly hard to watch in the most impressive way possible.
More of a journey rather than the contained home defense story like the the previous film, the plot takes us to several new locals that allow the screenwriters to breath some new approaches and ideas. Krasinski still manages to find creative ways for the characters to utilize and modify their surroundings in order to get by without making a sound, although there is admittedly less innovation this time around. The story later becomes less focused on the self-survival of one family unit and more on the perseverance of community and humanity as a whole. The brief glimpses of normalcy the film presents offers us something the first film lacked: hope. The world feels less bleak this time around despite the monster madness being cranked up significantly from the last film. Not shying away from showing the film’s blind monstrosities in all their scaly, lanky glory, the film takes a much more action-centric approach by letting the monsters cause more destruction and bloodshed than previously seen (very much an Alien to Aliens comparison). Though this makes the film feel thematically different than its predecessor, it loses some of the nail biting tension that made the first film so enthralling. We now recognize the story beats and how the film builds towards its scares, shocking us a little less. Realizing it would be nearly impossible to surpass that scene from the first film’s opening and that scene from the same film’s climax, Krasinski plays it safer this time around without any real emotional gut punches to be seen. Heck, the homemade sonic “weapon” Regan utilizes at the end of the film makes a return, being just as affective as ever. Thusly, the stakes never really feel as high as we’ve seen them before. The story goes pretty much exactly where you anticipate it will go, leading to an ending that feels abrupt and a bit underwhelming.
Even with the film’s shortcomings, Krasinski still understands how to keep a film fun and enjoyable despite lacking apparent innovation. The opening sequence of the film is impressively paced and structured, keeping his main characters at the center of the action while they adapt and survive the tornado of carnage that unfolds behind them. It shows a different side to this world; it’s chaotic beginnings before anyone even has the vaguest idea of what’s going on. While not as emotionally enthralling, there are still moments of triumph and relief, letting our characters find some success as the world crumbles around them. Hope is a key element to the film, as it feels more within reach than ever before while the films keeps adding new layers to the potential future. More survivors, more ways to reshape community and more possible ways to return to the old way of living. The film only seems to scratch the surface with its new ideas, like marauding groups of humans that prey on unsuspecting survivors, that hopefully will find its way into future installments in order to keep the series feeling fresh and unique.
Barely over 90 minutes, the film matches its predecessor’s quick runtime which gives it the potential to be a perfect horror double feature in the vein of Halloween and Halloween 2; a prolonged horror story that continues in realtime over the course of two films. While I can’t say I love this film as much as the first, I can still recognize that we have received one of the few horror sequels that actually works, even if the necessity of its existence is still out for debate. Made for the fans of the first who want to see the Abbot family succeed, yet you won’t find the same emotional conflicts or ballsy narrative decisions that made the first film so memorable. Sure to wet the whistle of anyone experiencing a horror dry-spell, A Quiet Place Part II is worth talking/signing about. Is it worth continuing from here? The ending suggests yes, but I hope Krasinski and company can find a way to revitalize the story in a way that feels loyal to the film’s lore yet different enough to justify watching a new film rather than the first one again.
Inspired by the red warning lights used by the Abbot family to warn each other if a monster was near, this cocktail is as strong as it is glowing. Made with a healthy amount of alcohol, including some good ol moonshine to reflect the setting’s mountainous and rural setting, and a little bit of juice, the thrown together concoction was my idea of an apocalypse-age cocktail made with whatever survivors could scrounge together. Sweetened with hints of fruit that don’t completely hide the alcohol taste, the drink is a nice middle ground if you’re new to cocktails but want to try something a little stronger. To add a little extra flair, the drink is served inside a chilled lightbulb glass to drive home the thematics. If you’d like to make the most authentic Warning Light possible, snag yourself one of these cool cocktail glasses at the link below!
- 1.5oz moonshine
- 1.5oz peach schnapps
- 1.5oz Southern Comfort
- 2oz triple sec
- 1oz orange juice
- 1oz cranberry juice
- Splash of grenadine
- Shake all ingredients together with ice.
- Strain drink into chilled cocktail glass.