A Quiet Place Part II (2020)
Director: John Krasinski
Screenwriter: John Krasinski
Starring: Emily Blunt, Cillian Murphy, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, Djimon Hounsou
In the age of sequels, prequels, remakes and reboots it is more apparent than ever that sequels are a particularly tricky type of movie to get right. As if Randy Meeks and company hadn’t already told us this in Wes Craven’s Scream 2, John Krasinski himself even stated this as his official reason as to why he did not immediately sign on to direct the sequel to his incredibly successful 2018 film A Quiet Place. This leaves an inevitable question about the former ‘The Office’ star’s long-delayed and hotly anticipated 2021 release then: how does A Quiet Place Part II fair amongst the best and worst sequels in cinema history?
A Quiet Place Part II opens on Day 1. The day the creatures of the first movie took over. It’s an electric opening that allows us to see farther into the Abbott family’s lives before the creatures arrived on earth, whilst also giving a glimpse into what exactly has been lost with the arrival of the creatures.
This slow build to the inevitable presence of said creatures is used well in order to create a sense of dread whilst also setting up relationships that will be used later in the film, creating an exhilarating opening that immediately has you on the edge of your seat. As we are introduced to the origins of this post-apocalyptic landscape, we revisit the actions of the first film’s conclusion and then catch up with the Abbots during their search for a new place to settle. It’s incredibly tense, with the terrific standards that have come to be expected from the series in full display. Once the Abbotts do find this new place however, the cracks in A Quiet Place II and John Krasinski’s screenplay begin to appear.
As seen in the marketing material, Cillian Murphy’s Emmett takes the Abbotts in. Almost from the moment he appears, it is very clear that Emmett is being used strictly to work as a carbon copy of John Krasinski’s character Lee in the original film. The character arcs are essentially the same, with Murphy’s Emmett even holding back Regan (Millicent Simmonds) before believing in her and her abilities. It seems like such a waste of a reputable character actor like Murphy, and he’s not the only one whose character arc seems to have been copied and pasted from the original film.
Noah Jupe’s Marcus goes through almost the exact same character progression as he did in A Quiet Place I; starting off as a scared, nervous boy who must grow out of his shell due to the circumstances. To make matters worse, the decisions that Marcus makes are appallingly stupid. This poor writing makes it very difficult to care or find sympathy for the situations that the characters find themselves in, sucking the tension from many moments in the film and leaving the plot of A Quiet Place II feeling much more predictable and therefore less nerve jangling than the original’s fresh, simple and effective offering.
By far the largest problem of A Quiet Place II is the structure. Whereas most films have three acts – a beginning, middle and end – A Quiet Place Part II seems to only have two halves. This isn’t necessarily an issue in the right hands, with films such as Full Metal Jacket employing a similar structure to tremendous effect, yet this template causes a jarring disconnect within the film, robbing the narrative of any flow and forcing a noticeable shift in tone.
A Quiet Place Part II isn’t all bad. The performances are as reliable as you’d expect from the likes of Emily Blunt and Cillian Murphy, and John Krasinski offers more of what he was critically lauded for with the original film in his role as director, but through structural issues and carbon copy character arcs, it is clear that screenwriters Bryan Woods and Scott Beck played a major role in making the first film as good as it was.
A Quiet Place Part II has its moments and it is certainly an enjoyable ninety minutes or so, but a classic horror movie sequel it is not. This one will likely leave you shrugging your shoulders rather than grinning ear to ear.