Cinematic Releases: A Quiet Place II (2021) - Reviewed


John Krasinski’s 2018 horror thriller A Quiet Place presented to audiences an apocalyptic, alien-ridden Earth unlike anything they had ever seen before:  one that doesn’t bask in loud explosions or screaming victims, but rather flourishes in silence and the most minuscule noises that break it.  Delayed a year due to COVID, its long-awaited sequel takes the same premise that “silence is golden” and runs with it, but rather than retreading old ground, it builds upon the world of the first film and enhances it.

After a brief prologue, this second installment picks up right where the last film left off:  showing the distressed, broken Abbott family fighting to survive — down several members, but with the addition of a newborn baby.  They are being stalked by ferocious aliens that hunt by sound, and they are running low on resources.  Forced to look elsewhere for help, they embark into the unknown, looking for shelter and supplies to help sustain them as they keep as quiet as possible to avoid their predators.  During their journey, they come across a family acquaintance Emmett (Cillian Murphy), who begrudgingly agrees to help them after losing his own family to the ruthless creatures.  The following day, the deaf Abbott daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds) ventures out on her own to find other survivors, and everything devolves into chaos in an attempt to retrieve her while keeping the other children safe.


A Quiet Place Part II is masterful at visual storytelling.  It is very much a “show, not tell” endeavor and all the better for it.  Scant on dialogue due to the nature of the premise, most of the narrative is told without the aid of exposition, choosing instead to rely on facial expressions and well-crafted sequences to tell the tale whenever possible.  This is not to say, however, that it’s anything like a silent film:  when the largely quiet streaks of the film are broken by even the slightest noise, it is used as a catalyst to throw the audience’s suspense into overdrive:  we know what the consequences of sound are by now in this ravaged world they traverse, and we dread it.

The fast pacing of the film only adds to the sense of dread.  Once the plot of this sequel is established, it is unrelenting with its grasp on the audience.  Packed with nonstop action and very little time to breathe, the momentum keeps steady until the final shot, making it a wildly entertaining second installment to this franchise.  It is as tense as its predecessor, but with a more multifaceted storyline that heightens the stakes and adds new threats to oppose these survivors, which keeps people guessing and at the edge of their seats.  Despite some similarities to the first film, the sequel feels like its own entity and never takes too long to re-establish the rules of the adversities they’re up against, instead choosing to throw the viewer into different circumstances to refresh their memory.

Part of the film’s success in embracing a unique identity is the addition of Cillian Murphy to the cast.  He adds a dynamic to the ensemble that wasn’t seen in the first film.  While he’s established as an ally after a rocky first encounter, he’s one who the Abbott family can’t entirely trust but desperately need, hoping the common threads of grief and survival will unite them.  Murphy’s performance is uncharacteristic for him but brilliantly acted, playing a bearded, baseball cap-wearing everyman with a tough exterior and soft spot under the surface.  The cast is rounded out by Emily Blunt’s strong performance as a mother trying her best to protect her children against all odds, and Millicent Simmonds’ return to the screen as a headstrong teenager who is determined to find a better life for her remaining family members.

Filled to the brim with tension and terror, A Quiet Place Part II is a must-see for anyone who enjoyed the first film.  John Krasinski impresses once again with his innate attention to detail as a horror writer and director, understanding the power of quietude in a sea of loud, busy blockbusters.  Watch it in theaters if you have a chance for the full experience; it makes the noises that pierce the silence all the more maddening. 

--Andrea Riley