The mission of survival the Abbots are on here sees them cross paths with another survivor, Emmett, and whether this man can really be trusted is the source of much of the film’s suspense. Cillian Murphy is utterly compelling as Emmett, his scenes with Millicent Simmonds’ Regan being among the most gripping in the film. Emmet could have used a bit more development, but Murphy nevertheless imbues this deeply damaged man with pathos, intensity, and mystery.
Simmonds once again delivers an engrossing performance as we see Regan struggling to fill the void left by her father’s death. She is the main protagonist here rather than Emily Blunt’s Evelyn, who has two particularly standout scenes — one with Murphy and the other with Noah Jupe’s Marcus — that showcase what a powerful and understated actress she can be, but this is definitely Simmonds’ film and she carries it well.
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The spine of this movie is similar to the first film’s — run, hide and stay quiet if you know what’s good for you — but Part II employs a multi-storyline approach that occasionally tries one’s patience. While the respective emotional journeys of Regan and Marcus allow the film to conclude on the right note for those characters, the ending itself still feels abrupt and doesn’t allow for the full catharsis some may have been hoping for, given all the story’s cross-cutting. (To elaborate further would be to risk spoilers.)
The sequel also reveals the world before the invading creatures wiped out most of humanity, flashbacks that feature some of the movie’s biggest action and visual effects moments that call to mind 2005’s War of the Worlds. As skilled as Krasinski is at crafting these suspense set-pieces and Spielbergian moments of awe and terror, it’s his understanding of character and performance that makes both the original film and this sequel emotionally authentic and relatable. These characters feel real and thus so too does the otherworldly peril they face.
By opening up the story to a larger world, A Quiet Place Part II delves into the myriad dangerous scenarios of post-apocalyptic life that anyone who has ever seen any film or show set in such an environment will recognize as all too familiar. The movie deftly navigates this well-trod ground without letting the inherent tropes undermine it. There are only so many ways to zig when the audience expects you to zag in the post-apocalypse sub-genre, but A Quiet Place Part II largely maintains its footing despite occasionally dipping into been there, done that territory.
On a technical level, A Quiet Place Part II is as much a testament to sound design as the original film. The strategic use of noise and silence is just as remarkably employed here as we follow the hearing-impaired Regan through completely silent moments or where Evelyn strategically utilizes noise to misdirect a lurking monster.
While it definitely has its share of jump scares, the film is more interested in ratcheting up tension and unease in service of action set-pieces rather than for outright horror. A Quiet Place Part II then is to the more action-packed Aliens what the first film is to the more claustrophobic and horrifying Alien. In that sense, some may not find Part II as scary as its predecessor but still thoroughly enjoyable.