Well, it’s been a while. Thanks to many new, exciting commitments, the writing side of things has slipped somewhat. This site has become, one might say, a real Quiet Place – how apt then, to revive the writing side of things than with what was the first major blockbuster of the year…
Oh, and beware spoilers for the first film.
When John Krasinski‘s directorial debut feature “A Quiet Place” arrived in cinemas, it was an overnight critical and commercial hit, lauded as an instant classic of the horror genre. It was almost inevitable that Krasinski’s high-concept horror blockbuster would spawn a franchise, and – after a bit of a delay – the follow-up to the cinematic sensation arrived on the big screen.
After a lengthy ‘Day One’ prologue detailing just how the film series’ world came to be, “A Quiet Place: Part II” picks up almost exactly where the original left off. Evelyn (Emily Blunt), having dispatched one of the series’ noise-sensitive predators with the help of a handy shotgun and, more crucially, a faulty hearing aid from her deaf daughter Regan – played by the excellent Millicent Simmonds – heads out beyond the family’s homestead with Regan, her son Marcus (Noah Jupe) and her newborn baby, to seek out other survivors.
Before long, the family are reunited with Emmett (Cillian Murphy), an old family friend who reluctantly takes them in at a long-abandoned foundry. It’s there where the sequel’s story properly kicks off, with the revelation that a broadcast from a nearby island is still transmitting. Regan makes it her mission to find the source of the broadcast, in order to potentially weaponise her hearing aid on a massive scale, and maybe even give the last vestiges of humanity some hope against the monsters which have all but eradicated the population.
Regan’s story is put front and centre through the course of “AQP:PII” (as the kids are no doubt calling it), and it’s a shrewd choice from Krasinski, who also wrote this instalment, to put Millicent Simmonds at the front and centre of the film. The strongest part of the first outing, Simmonds continues to shine here. She spends most of the film’s runtime alongside Murphy – himself giving a superbly gruff performance – and Simmonds more than holds her own throughout. The two are great to watch together; their relationship is reminiscent of that between the protagonists of “The Last of Us” game series.
It’s almost entirely because of how great Simmonds and Murphy are here that “AQP:PII” (it’s catching on by now, surely) works as well as it does. The tension and tight plotting from the first film are all but missing in the second, as the film tries for a broader, action-oriented approach in comparison to the pure horror of its predecessor – it’s comparable to the shift in tone with “Aliens” after “Alien”. The end result feels baggy and somewhat unfocused, and although the film’s final act rediscovers something of the spark which made the first film such an engaging horror flick, “A Quiet Place: Part II” forgoes any sense of closure for the opportunity to prepare its audience for a Part III which feels inevitable at this point.
A film as good as 2018’s “A Quiet Place” was always going to court sequel interest from studios, no matter what Krasinski and the first film’s co-writers intended. With “Part II”, the returns have already sadly diminished. With a spin-off firmly in the works, as well as ideas reportedly being considered for another direct sequel in the series, one can only look on with dismay as another original idea succumbs to the “franchisification” of the modern studio system.