A Quiet Place Part 2 review: Rivetingly tense
James R | On 21, Aug 2021
Director; John Krasinski
Cast: Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Cillian Murphy, Noah Jupe
Day 89. That’s when we joined the Abbott family back in 2018, with no explanations or warning, as they continued their near-impossible challenge of staying alive after an invasion by aliens with super-powered hearing. Not that there was much explanation needed. A Quiet Place worked on the rivetingly simple logic of a child’s nightmares: make a noise and the creatures catch you. A Quiet Place Part II begins on Day 1, and while that might seem like a dreadful idea for a franchise built on the tension of unspoken danger, the result is just as nail-biting.
The opening sequence gives us a glimpse of what life was like before the aliens landed, as mother Evelyn (Emily Blunt) and kids Marcus (Noah Jupe) and Regan (Millicent Simmonds) attend a baseball game, along with husband and dad Lee (John Krasinski). Also in the stands is their neighbour, Emmett (Cillian Murphy). The whole thing rings with portent as we wait for the threat to emerge – and, when it does, we find ourselves back in the same position as the first film, racing to work out the rules of survival at the same time as the characters.
Emily Blunt’s face as Evelyn accelerates away in a car, only to have to screech into reverse, tells us everything we need to know, and John Krasinski’s script and direction understands that power – fuelled by the need to say nothing, there’s a ruthlessness to his visual storytelling that boils everything to hugely effective basics. That remains the case here, with the few whispered conversations that we do get never lasting long enough to dispel the hushed atmosphere.
Jumping forward to Day 474, as Evelyn, Regan, Marcus and Evelyn’s newborn baby continue on without Lee, it’s not long until they cross paths with Emmett, who has lost his son and wife and is now holed up in a warehouse with a string of security measures to keep him safe. Rather than try to put Emmett in Lee’s shoes, the script smartly lets him be everything that Lee was not, and Cillian Murphy delivers a remarkable, intense turn as the haunted, withdrawn figure. That allows Blunt’s widow, and Jupe and Simmonds as her resilient kids, space to grieve for the loss of Lee, and Emmett room to remember reluctantly the value of caring for others.
Even though we eventually encounter a community of survivors, Krasinski keeps the scale small and tight, which means those slight emotional arcs still carry huge weight, and each new discovery feels like a momentous step towards some kind of future. That’s rooted most of all in Simmonds, a deaf actor who brings compassion, determination and courage to the part of Regan, growing to become every bit the daughter of her noble parents and the real hero of this franchise. The result is heart-stopping and gripping piece of sci-fi horror that finds strength in working together and hope in humanity.