A Quiet Place Part II hits theaters after a 14-month pandemic delay, and three years since theatergoers had their initial, oddly silent experience in a theater watching the scrappy Abbott family deal with malicious alien monsters that attack based on sound.
Writer-director John Krasinski made a fun feature helming debut, albeit one filled with all sorts of holes and implausible plot gimmicks. His film was such a blast, it was easy to forgive how ridiculous it was at times.
The same goes for the sequel, a film that depends on its central characters doing stupid, moronic things to keep the action and its main "don't make a sound" plot device moving forward. At some point, this gimmick is going to play out, but not quite yet.
The film starts with a flashback that prominently involves Krasinski's Lee Abbott, casually strolling through a general store and picking up snacks for a Little League game where his son Marcus (Noah Jupe) is having an anxiety-ridden experience at the plate. His at-bat is interrupted by a streak of fire in the sky which, as most movie watchers know, signifies an alien attack, but the townspeople figure it's a meteor or something like that. They disperse, rather calmly, to their parked cars, and Marcus is relieved of his batting duties.
That's when the creatures first appear and start shredding and spearing people. Let it be said that this is the pre-credits sequence, and it's is the best thing in both movies. There's pure cinematic joy in being able to watch something like this on the big screen, the only problem being that the movie that follows this scene isn't as good. It's decent, but not magnificent.
Krasinski (who gets sole screenwriting credit and returns to direct) soldiers on with a story about the loss of the patriarchal figure in a family, the moments leading to the coming-of-age for its children, and a mom finding new ways to protect her family while carrying a baby wearing a cute little oxygen mask inside a box.
Much of the action focusses on deaf daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds) and her decision to go on a solo journey to find and rescue other survivors. Her decision is one of those head-scratcher silly things aforementioned in this review that keeps the plot moving forward. She's joined on the journey by Emmett, played by ever-reliable Cillian Murphy, no stranger to the apocalypse (28 Days Later, Sunshine). He provides a decent father figure after Krasinski retreats behind the camera for most of the film's running time.
Mama Abbott (the always amazing Emily Blunt) is left behind in some sort of mill featuring a vault-like furnace that is perfect for alien avoidance except for its alarming lack of oxygen. She's looking after the baby and an injured Marcus, who, quite inconveniently, stepped in a bear trap before entering said mill.
Not sure if there has been a more unsettling moment at the movies in the last decade than Noah Jupe stepping into a bear trap. Seeing the extremely likeable Jupe screaming his face off (admirably...that boy can yell!) is harsh enough. Knowing that his screams will attract Krasinski's flesh shredding creepy crawly aliens definitely heightens the tension.
The two separate plot lines often play out in interwoven editing and lead up to a finale that is as abrupt as finales get. It's an ending that screams "Stay tuned for the next chapter!," and, thus, a continuing franchise has been born.
That's something all but assured after the film's opening weekend success. It's official...Jim from The Office has temporarily saved the American movie theater's box office!
No official word on how or when that next film might happen. It was announced last year that the great Jeff Nichols (Mud, Take Shelter) might be directing some sort of movie for the franchise. Is it a direct sequel? A prequel? A spin-off? If that project is actually in production, it's tentatively due for release next year. If it's a direct sequel or prequel involving the Abbots, make it fast. Noah Jupe is experiencing some significant growth spurts.
While the sequel isn't better than the original, it's worthy of your time. The opening scene plays great in a theater with people screaming next to you, even if many of those screams are muffled by those darned masks.