Following the events at home, the Abbott family now face the terrors of the outside world. Forced to venture into the unknown, they realize the creatures that hunt by sound are not the only threats lurking beyond the sand path. (from IMDB)
I typically do not like horror movies, but 2018's A Quiet Place really connected with me. I don't mind the thrill of monster movies - especially classic ones from our parents' childhood, but when it gets supernatural and spiritual, it can often be especially disturbing and unsettling to the soul. PG-13 psychological thrillers like The Secret Window or ghost-centric stories like The Haunting or The Ring can be far more unsettling to a viewer like me. For A Quiet Place, the story centered around a family who have been living for over a year under the invasion of monsters that hunt by sound. They realize that they must live in near silence to survive, but the events of the film prove this to be a critical challenge. As a father of a young son myself, the theme of protecting your family at any cost is an impactful one--and it didn't hurt at all that the father in the film was played by John Krasinski, who was known almost exclusively for his role as Jim Halpert in what is arguably my favorite TV show, The Office.
The horror in the first film is based largely on the fact that the family is being hunted by these creatures, and in the midst of it all, the mother in the family, played by Emily Blunt, is on the verge of giving birth to a new baby, all the while needing to keep quiet through it all. Everything from Krasinski's subtle direction, to the strong acting, deeply human story, exceptional effects (which are used to add to the story, not drive it), and fantastic cinematic score from Marco Beltrami has made A Quiet Place my favorite "horror" movie. I was excited and definitely somewhat worried to hear a sequel was greenlit, but I was encouraged by the fact that everyone who had made the 2018 film was returning. And with a promising teaser released late 2019, I was cautiously excited to see this sequel. But then a worldwide pandemic happened. Finally, over a year after its original March 2020 release date, A Quiet Place: Part II is here, and it's on the big screen: where it should be.
A Quiet Place: Part II feels like a natural continuation of the first film. The first film ended on quite a doozy of a moment, too. Before the sequel continues on from that ending, however, we're given a flashback to Day One. In a wonderful slight-of-hand trick, the movie opens the same way as the first film, showing an empty street and a stop light, but then Krasinski's character, Lee Abbott (a name we never even heard in the first film as most names weren't even mentioned during the film), is seen driving to a mom-and-pop convenience store to grab some supplies on a completely normal day. It shows life for the Abbott's before the invasion, and also just how these monsters first came to Earth. We're reintroduced to these characters in yet another human and relatable way, and it's such a gripping way to open the film. Krasinski--as the director--then transitions the film from past to present, picking up from the ending of the 2018 movie, and takes the Abbott family from the confines of their home to life beyond it. It's how we get to see what life was for other people in their town after the invasion was like, and it's how we meet Cillian Murphy's character, Emmett. Emmett is a person not too unlike Emily Blunt's Evelyn in how loss has affected their lives. Emmett is then reluctantly forced to help the Abbott's, and in the process is dragged further out into unknown territory that makes survival even more difficult. It sets up one nail-biting scenario after another, and those who don't like suspense are liable to be squirming in their seats.
Where A Quiet Place withheld a clear look at the monsters until later in the film, Part II gives us far more appearances of the horrifying creatures. But Krasinski continues to use the sight of them sparingly. Even when they're shown ravaging larger groups of people this time around, it's through the perspective of someone else, and it's seldom shown in detail. Krasinski and company keep A Quiet Place: Part II safely within the PG-13 limits by not showing too much blood and gore. And, like other scary PG-13 horror films and even the old monster movies of the golden age of cinema, it works just as well to not show every detail and let the viewer's imagination fill in the rest.
The monsters are clearly shown to have arrived on Earth from the sky, which continues to alleviate any allusions to the notion that these creatures could be demonic or spiritual; they're just otherworldly monsters who attack and kill anything that makes a sound... which is still quite terrifying. There isn't really any spiritual content in these films, but in the first movie, the family is shown silently holding hands and giving thanks at the dinner table. In Part II, the only spiritual content shows, during the prologue flashback, a man saying the Lord's prayer as he hides under a table in fear. Lee then covers his mouth to make him be silent, but it isn't to silence his prayer specifically; it's to make sure no one is making any noise. (The same scene also speaks loudly toward keeping your cellphone on silent!) The first movie doesn't represent any real significant human darkness (with the possible exception being the old man in the woods who Lee and Marcus find standing over his dead wife and then he chooses to scream to attract a monster to kill him), but Part II takes a little look into how some others may have reacted to this new way of life of living in silence and desperation. I felt like the previews suggested that nearly all of the other humans the Abbott's may come in contact with would be evil, but -- and not to spoil anything -- really only one sequence has some main characters coming face-to-face with some pretty depraved people. The story stays centralized on the Abbott's, and their newfound friend, Emmett, and it keeps the story having heart and warmth in the midst of this starkly desolate way of living.
The content, again, is quite PG-13 rated, but it is seldom gory or graphic. Still, there are plenty of harrowing moments and visuals. This time around, the characters find quite a few mummified remains of dead bodies that have slowly decayed since the monsters first arrived. We see these several times, and at least twice during jump scare scenes. But even when the monsters attack large groups of people, there may be a quick spray of blood in the background, but I seldom noticed it. Most of the monster-on-human violence is shown in quick cuts and in the background to minimize the gross visuals. The first pretty bloody scene happens when a character's ankle is caught in a bear trap. They scream in pain and horror when it happens, and then we briefly see blood all over their leg and a quick view of the wound with holes in the skin and blood all over. Other scenes that show the monsters getting shot in the head often show the monster's blood spraying in the air and sometimes spreading on the floor. In one sequence, a man is tied to a wooden post as a monster attacks and we see it slicing at the man with its long legs as he screams. We then see the water turn red below (and bits of stuff seem to hit the water too) as another character hides under the water. Another scene has monster blood spraying onto a person's face after they hit it in the head with a metal rod. And after a person's leg is wounded by a monster, we see dark blood on the floor in a very dimly lit room. Since we hear people speak this time around, there are just a couple moments where there is some language. Emmett uses the "S" word three times, "g*dd*mn" once (muttering it) and "d*mmit" once, while we hear "Oh my G-d" at least twice from characters fleeing the creatures. There is also one possible use of "J-sus Chr-st" later in the film, but it was tough to tell if that is what the character really said or not. There is no sexual content, but when some ragged humans find a girl, they remove her backpack and jacket, and start to lead her away, with it being possible that they had less than pure intentions for her. (But, thankfully, she escapes.)
A Quiet Place: Part II is a worthy sequel to its fantastic predecessor. It's extremly intense, pretty violent--particularly when it involves the monsters--and not for the squeamish, but those who like suspense without perverse gore and gruesomeness (which is often just for the sake of shock value), A Quiet Place: Part II is excellent entertainment. The movie is setup pretty well to allow for a third film to be made, but the bar has been set so high with these two films that I would hate for there to be a third installment if it can't at least match the quality of the first two. A Quiet Place: Part II is the perfect welcoming back to the cinema!
Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not exclusively on content. However, if the content really affects the reviewer's opinion and experience of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's overall rating.
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