A sequel that expands upon the world we were first introduced to in 2018, A Quiet Place Part II is so much more than just your typical follow-up looking to cash in on its predecessor’s success. At its core, A Quiet Place Part II is a powerful and harrowing coming-of-age tale that puts both Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe front and center in the sequel’s story, but beyond that, the sequel also does some impressive world-building that helps fill in some of the blanks and addresses a few of the questions I was left with after seeing the original film. And much like A Quiet Place, AQPPII absolutely destroyed my nerves, and I love how well Krasinski was able to find new ways to amp up the tension that permeates throughout this sequel in new and exciting ways.
Before it picks up directly where the first film left off, A Quiet Place Part II gives us a glimpse at the world-changing terror that wreaked havoc on our planet the day we were invaded by the vicious alien creatures. The rather effective sequence gives us the juxtaposition of a “slice of life” scenario featuring the Abbott family and a bunch of their neighbors at a baseball game that’s interrupted by total chaos and destruction as all intergalactic hell breaks loose. Then, we follow Evelyn (Emily Blunt), Regan (Simmonds), Marcus (Jupe), and Baby Abbott as they venture away from their once-idyllic farm in search of safety and other survivors. Along their travels, they cross paths with Emmett (Cillian Murphy), who is content to live his life in isolation, so when Evelyn and her brood show up one day, it complicates things for him, as Emmett tries to reconcile his feelings concerning this new extended family he never asked for.
And of course, there’s a whole lot more beyond these new interactions between the Abbotts and Emmett, where Krasinski really opens up the mythology of the creatures, the stories of the survivors, and some other details of interest. If I were to dig into those here, that would definitely ruin your viewing experience, so I’ll just say that A Quiet Place Part II takes audiences to some very unexpected places, and I really enjoyed the ways that Krasinski was able to balance out some of the bigger set pieces in the sequel against the more intimately crafted sequences.
Speaking to that, where the original A Quiet Place was far more about the concept of the nuclear family and how parents often struggle to keep their kids safe from the ills of this world—or in this case, an alien invasion—A Quiet Place Part II is far more focused on the characters of Regan and Marcus and how they are able to adapt (or in the case of Marcus, struggle with adapting) to their new responsibilities outside of their homestead. Some people are going to harp on Jupe’s character in AQPPII, but honestly, his reactions and fear feel right in line with how many kids would react, and yeah, he may make some very dumb decisions in this, but he’s a kid, and kids often make dumb mistakes. And while Simmonds was very much a bright spot in the first Quiet Place, her role as Regan is greatly expanded here and the young actress really rises to the occasion and proves that she’s one of the best young actresses working today.
I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention Blunt’s performance in A Quiet Place Part II as well, as the things that her character must endure in the sequel are just absolutely gut-wrenching. She’s lost her husband, has to deal with a newborn and still tend to two other kids, all while on the run, and because of the immediacy of where this story picks up, Evelyn has very little time to process anything—all she can do is react. Blunt’s been a longtime favorite of mine (ever since her The Devil Wears Prada days), but I think what she’s able to do with her character in both Quiet Place films is absolutely astounding. And yes, Cillian Murphy is excellent here as well, and I was really happy to see him added to the cast for the sequel.
I will admit that one thing that did bother me about A Quiet Place Part II is that Krasinski smartly added Djimon Hounsou to his cast for the sequel (and he’s totally awesome), but never actually gives his character a real name (he’s credited as “Man on Island”), and that just felt weird to me. I know that many of the peripheral characters are left nameless, which seems to play into some of the themes of the Quiet Place movies, but considering that Hounsou ends up being somewhat crucial to the plot of the sequel, I just wish he had been given some sort of name in AQPPII to give his role some added weight.
What’s interesting about A Quiet Place Part II is that this is a film that was written and set to release in the “before times,” and somehow the film feels far more poignant and timely now, which may be the one positive aspect of AQPPII’s delayed release. While I’m sure that most parents will always struggle with their kids making their way in the world independently under any circumstance, I feel like that experience feels a whole lot different now that we’ve spent the last 14+ months dealing with a pandemic, and maybe that’s why the film has stuck with me so hard over the last year or so, because the heart of this film’s story has become so incredibly relevant in 2021. That constant fear is now heightened by the fact that there’s still this virus out there, and I think there are quite a few parents out there that will find this story’s journey extremely relatable and poignant (as a non-parent, I certainly did).
As a whole, A Quiet Place Part II is an incredibly successful follow-up that does a great job of expanding upon the foundation of the first film in some rather clever and compelling ways, where we get to experience life beyond the Abbott’s abode, and it also gives us more insights into these otherworldly creatures, too. The entire cast is top-notch and there’s a lot of exciting world-building that really opens everything up for possible new stories down the line, which I personally would be thrilled to see in the future. Krasinski does a brilliant job directing A Quiet Place Part II, too, and even though he did a fantastic job with the first film, you can feel how much his confidence has grown as a visual storyteller in the sequel.
Movie Score: 4/5