After barely surviving the events of 'A Quiet Place', Evelyn (Emily Blunt) and her children Regan, Marcus and their baby brother (Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe) flee their home in search of help and find Emmet (Cillian Murphy), who has been hiding out in an abandoned foundry. As they struggle to make sense of things, hope comes in the form of a radio signal that might lead them to other survivors...
John Krasinski's path from TV star to director is an interesting one to chart, because his early work - 'The Hollars', and 'Brief Interviews with Hideous Men' - were far more inclined to draw on comedy and drama. Yet, with 'A Quiet Place', his instinct for tension and terror led him to craft one of the most exciting horrors in years. It was innovative enough to capture attention, yet familiar enough that it didn't lose audiences. As well as this, the curiosity factor of Krasinski behind the camera in a glossy horror drew people. With a sequel all but guaranteed based on the critical reception and box office, it's easy to wonder if all of these things can sustain it.
For one, 'A Quiet Place' was a neat, self-contained story. The ending was satisfying and didn't automatically demand a continuation. As well as this, any high-concept idea like this - a world drowned in silence, a monster who hunts by sound - diminishes itself when it's trotted out again. It's true, 'A Quiet Place, Part II' has the same concepts and ideas as the first one, and it utilises the tension and space between dialogue and sound to let it build to unbearable levels. The lush cinematography is all there from the first, along with the flavours of Stephen King/Rob Reiner/'Stand By Me' all mixed into the pot, along with the new ingredients of Cillian Murphy, a tripling of the original's budget, and Krasinski devoting himself entirely to writing and directing this time around.
The results are a competently made, well-executed sequel with a willing cast and a script that's got just enough meat on it to make sense. Tellingly, Krasinski's script doesn't make the mistake of giving explanation after explanation for what we've seen before and what we're about to go through now. The introduction of Cillian Murphy's character, likewise, makes sense in context, and while there might be a nit-picky moment involving sign language from an earlier scene, it's still only a minor issue. Blunt's character doesn't necessarily develop beyond her incredible performance in the first film, and instead, the child actors Noah Jupe and Millicent Simmonds are given more of a chance to shine. That's really the core theme of 'A Quiet Place, Part II' - that, eventually, children will learn to stand on their own and take care of themselves.
Millicent Simmonds, if she wants it, has a bright future ahead as an actor and is able to capture a scene and hold it all by herself. When she's paired up against Cillian Murphy, she's more than capable of holding her own. Noah Jupe, likewise, gives a physical performance that will leave you breathless with tension. Blunt, Murphy, et al are all giving vital, committed performances, but the child actors stand out this time and make the movie what it is.
Krasinski's direction shows he's able to form a setpiece, squeeze every drop of terror out of a scene, pace the whole thing appropriately, and deliver it all with a few minutes over ninety on the clock. Even with a two-pronged story, he keeps a tight grip on things and never lets them get too far out of the way. As with the original, economy gives it alacrity. Yes, there's more scale to some of the setpieces and you can see where all the extra money went, but none of that cheapens the experience. Much like 'Godzilla vs. Kong', getting to see 'A Quiet Place, Part II' in a cinema is the best way to experience it. Sound and the lack thereof is such an important part of this movie, and a cinema with a good, tight sound system does wonders for it.
It might not have the same spark of originality as the first, but 'A Quiet Place: Part II' is a worthy sequel with enough thrills and scares to tempt you back inside a cinema.