Review: Monster sequel 'A Quiet Place Part II' delivers the goods, silently
Writer-director John Krasinski follows up his 2018 smash 'A Quiet Place' with a smart sequel that pushes his story forward.
A solid follow-up to the unnervingly tense 2018 original, "A Quiet Place Part II" places viewers back inside the post-apocalyptic world where the rules are simple: make a noise, and you die.
The particulars are a bit more complicated, and we see now how this new world order came to be: a race of alien beings who really don't like noise came crashing to the Earth during an otherwise normal afternoon in an idyllic Connecticut town. Writer-director John Krasinski, back on board after the monster success of the first film, shows the beginnings of the story, pushes things forward and leaves major questions unanswered, and most definitely leaves the door open for "A Quiet Place Part III: Just Shut Up."
Krasinski, whose character died in the first film, is back in the film's opening, a flashback to Day 1 of the new noise wars. At a small town baseball game, the Abbott family — Lee (Krasinski), Evelyn (Emily Blunt) and their daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds), who is deaf — are in the stands cheering on Marcus (Noah Jupe), who is on the field, playing. Also in the stands is Emmett, a neighbor pal who is played by Cillian Murphy, so you know he's more than just a neighbor pal.
In the skies above, a disturbance sends a fireball through the air, and people start scrambling. (The game is promptly canceled, playoff implications be damned.) Long-limbed, lightning-quick monsters promptly appear and lay wreck to the town, and Krasinski stages the chaos with immediacy and efficiency. The terror and the tension feel real.
Cut to a year and a half later, past the events of the first film, and Evelyn and her children — and her newborn baby, brought into the world in Part 1 during the most silent birth in history — are making their way to an abandoned factory where they learn Emmett (hello again!) is now holed up. He has a series of tricks and traps set up to avoid the monsters, including an old soundproof vault where he can go to wall himself off from the baddies.
But they can't stay in the factory forever. Regan follows a pirate radio frequency stuck on Bobby Darin's "Beyond the Sea" to what she believes is a safe haven, while Evelyn hangs back with Marcus, who is nursing a wound from a rather nasty bear trap he stepped in on the factory's perimeter.
The dual storylines unfold concurrently, and Krasinski stages several action sequences simultaneously, cutting back and forth between the two settings as the suspense escalates in both. It's more than enough, and sometimes it feels like a little too much at once. He could afford to calm down and take a breath.
The magnificent Simmonds, with her wonderfully expressive face, emerges as the star here, and handles the emotional weight of the film with dignity and grace. The others, Blunt especially, don't have as much to do.
The trade off is viewers see more of the monsters than they did the first time around, and they remain terrifying creatures, ripped straight from your nightmares. There is still plenty to learn about them and their world, and "A Quiet Place Part II" expands the universe that was introduced in the first film. There are nitpicks — some small, some a little bigger — but mostly, "A Quiet Place Part II" does its job by giving viewers more and leaving them wanting even more. That's the modern franchise way.
'A Quiet Place Part II'
Rated PG-13: for terror, violence and bloody/disturbing images
Running time: 97 minutes