Directed By John Krasinski
Starring – Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Cillian Murphy
The Plot – Following the events at home, the Abbott family (Blunt, Simmonds, Noah Jupe) 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.
Rated PG-13 for terror, violence and bloody/disturbing images
– John Krasinski. While only minimally included on-screen in this supporting chapter to the 2018 original, it is Krasinski’s work behind the scenes that is most apparent not only in cementing a consistency between films that look and feel synthetically rich, but also in solidifying this visionary as anything other than a one hit wonder. Most of John’s articulence comes in the form of the ratcheting of anxiety that he most capably resides over, focusing on the previously unforeseen elements of an environment that he pokes and prods at to gain an advantage over his audience. In particular, it’s the drawn out silence and movements of the characters that serve as instruments to a deafening crescendo that swallows our experience whole, bracing us for the worst that possibly could happen, and often does albeit in an entirely unexpected manner. In addition to this, it’s the family first element that Krasinski helms to the forefront of the movie’s story, bringing with it an unexpected coming of age narrative that not only evolves the familiar characters we’ve followed throughout two films, but also playing to a social commentary with its own respective beats of life playing towards life’s most bittersweet song.
– Expanding story. The point of any good sequel is further fleshing out the characters and the plot in a way that wasn’t present in the first chapter, and this element alone not only makes “A Quiet Place 2” a justifiable film, but also a far more indulgent one. This comes as a result of an impactful opening sequence, where for the first time we witness this family in their natural habitat, complete with small town interactions and traditions that further paint a lived-in realism to what existed prior to this monstrous invasion. Krasinski doesn’t get too occupied with the how, instead choosing to leave the focus on the tragedy of that one fateful day where everything changed permanently, and time just seemed to quite literally stop during a day as typical as any other. But thankfully, this also isn’t just a film whose majority is told in flashbacks, simultaneously bringing along a current day narrative that scatters the pivotal pieces, and only brings them together when they face similar conflicts of adversities that further illustrates their family connection. You learn more about the protagonists, the antagonists, and even the unsettling grief that materializes in many unique perspectives between interactions, all playing towards a chilling experience that is anything other than your typical creature feature.
– Volume trepidation. Once more, the sound mixing and editing for the film are Oscar worthy, vividly illustrating an immersive experience for Simmonds deaf character, as well as the overall emphasis on environmental elements like rocks and branches that are just as much an antagonist as the movie’s beastly creatures. However, what’s enhanced for this film is how it uses sound to coherently illustrate an environment, all the while obscuring the interpretation that we the audience sometimes experience with the dialogue. It’s nothing that is frustrating or obtrusive in a way that harms exposition, just these throwaway sequences meant to further shape the environment and the rules coming with it that will inevitably materialize somewhere down the road. This production somehow articulates a hollow aluminum tomb, complete with a lack of echo and diminished volume delivery that makes the sequence all the more believable in its context, allowing the franchise to captivate once more with a sound scheme that very few other films can capably touch in terms of audible experience.
– Chilling frights. It’s not that anything in the movie was personally scary for me, just that the predicaments that this family found themselves in constantly tugged at the tenderness of the quiet that the movie worked so cleverly at using as a weapon. With that said, there are jump scares in the film, but they’re arranged in a way that plays towards a series of unexpected macguffins, saving the delivery in a way that happens slightly off screen before our angles and characters can capably interpret them. Because of such, there’s a series of satisfying pay-offs during these sometimes long and intentionally drawn out sequences that reach tense levels of much needed release, attaining brilliance by mocking you for what you know is coming, but not exactly where it’s coming from. Krasinski himself feels very much like a student of the game in this respect, bringing all of the vulnerabilities and isolation conflicts that stem as a result of such unforeseen misfortunes, and saving the low hanging fruit of easily detectable jolts for movies that know why a scare works, but not how.
– Talented leads. By now, all should appreciate Emily Blunt as one of the more emotionally versatile performers of the contemporary age. Once more, she gives a gratifying performance that peels at the sanity of this very tender, reeling woman forced to keep it together for her family. It’s her resiliency that is most evident in the way she competently keeps it together, and one that is the most evidential link to her daughter, played masterfully once more by Millicent Simmonds. Much of the heavy lifting for the film surprisingly rests on Simmonds shoulders, and she’s happy to oblige, balancing an intelligence and bravery that allows her to show off her toughness in ways that the previous film kept mostly guarded for her age and place in this family. I was also impressed once more with Cillian Murphy’s arrival to the franchise, whose regret springs from the many character flaws that the story illustrates in his character being suppressed by an immense shadow. Murphy, for the most part, is cryptic in his interaction with this family, and there’s a reason for it that I definitely won’t spoil. But his evolution is one that cements great importance for his character’s arrival, keeping the torch burning that Krasinski lit with gasoline in the previous installment.
– Compelling movements. Without question, the biggest difference between films, and a decision that doubles the ambition for this sequel is the addition of cinematographer Polly Morgan to the forefront of the movie’s presentational qualities. Morgan’s compositions not only feel more energetic than her predecessor, but also more capable at keeping the focus of the film where it should be; with the family. In this respect, we get some more revealing looks at the monsters, but none in a way that halts progression of the scene to take focus away from the urgency that envelopes her swift but sturdy shifts along the way. Finally, it’s the teasing of backgrounds and otherwise inconsequential matters stirring in the distance that she capably uses to brace audiences for, all the while playing into the twists of the scares that I previously mentioned. This affords her these long manipulated one shot sequences that crave for an edit to release or take ourselves out of the teasing of the environment conveying claustrophobia from around us, entrancing us with visuals that compliment the movie’s invasive sound qualities superbly for the experience.
– Breezy pacing. In what is one of the more easier cinematic experiences that I’ve had in 2021, “A Quiet Place 2” bottles its story with a 92 minute run time that isn’t thematically constricting or abruptly pushing in the its sequencing of scenes. In fact, what I found most impressive about this film is that it stitches together these long exposition building sequences, primarily during the first act, and yet the story constantly kept moving as these minutes burned away before my very eyes. Part of the benefit comes from this story constantly expanding, both geographically and thematically in a way that really pays dividends to the interpretation of the story, keeping me from ever feeling bored or tedious with the material. But for my money, it’s definitely the testament once more to Krasinski’s experience that he has taken from the previous film, and better used it in a way to accommodate the precious minutes that he chooses to use on particular scenes. Every single one of them are warranted in the eyes of where they play in the overall bigger picture, allowing this two minute longer sequel to better maintain the consistency of intrigue and anticipation better than its occasionally stilted predecessor.
– Inferior subplots. Even with everything going on throughout this film, and the majority of arc’s feeling justifiably satisfying in the juxtapositions of character situations, there was still one that felt unnecessary after being denied the minutes required to further flesh out its importance. This is with the remaining survivors, both good and bad, outside of our group of protagonists that the film just glosses over, and essentially uses them as nothing more than a plot device to keep the conflict going during down times between set pieces. It’s nothing terribly problematic, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t intrigued by the possibility of learning about why they’re so different from our trio of family characters who have very much dealt with the same kind of environments that they have. Especially in a film that barely runs 92 minutes long, I wish the film would’ve spent an additional 10-15 minutes further fleshing out its importance. Without it, it’s just as easy to keep the isolation factor of our four main characters firmly in tow.
– Abrupt ending. For the most part, I was satisfied with the resolution of the movie, but there were some critiques that I had with the film’s final shot that drains some of the emotional impact from what only previously transpired. This is heavy spoiler territory, so I will refrain from fully explaining everything, and instead just say that I wish the film ended on something or someone else entirely different from the shot that is meant to send audiences home with their biggest climax of the entire film. It almost felt like an epilogue was omitted from the finished cut because the editing from last shot to credits comes interruptingly sudden in the lack of time we were given to properly register everything. On top of that, the resolution itself leads to a couple of holes in logic the longer that I think about it, which in turn either begs this franchise for a possible trilogy, which comes as a result of undercutting the impact of this second film, or resolves things on a neat and tidy note that feels a little too convenient for this often cerebrally brilliant duo of films.
My Grade: 8/10 or B+