A Quiet Place Part II (2020) — Please silence your cellphones

“The people that are left, they aren’t worth saving.”

Justin’s rating: […]

Justin’s review: Unless you live in L.A., Vancouver, or New York, it’s not every day that filmmaking impacts your community. For us here in Buffalo, it was a Big Deal that A Quiet Place Part II shot many of its outdoor scenes in and around the town, including places that I pass all of the time. The newspapers were calling it the biggest movie event for the town since 1984’s The Natural. So it was both with an interest in the movie itself and also the filming locations that I went into this sequel to see what happens to the Abbott family in this world of sound-activated space monsters.

Part II begins with a stomach-churning look at “Day 1” of what would become this unstoppable alien invasion. Since the first movie already showed us what would become of all this, knowing what’s heading the way of the Abbott family is far more terrifying than if this was the start of the first movie.

I still don’t know if I buy the whole premise — how many asteroids containing how many of these critters would be needed to cover the entire planet this quickly? — but I’ll let it go to enjoy the continuing adventures of the silent apocalypse.

Soon enough it’s Day 474, and Lee is dead, leaving mom and three kids (including a prone-to-cry infant) behind. As their home is burned AND flooded, they pack up and take off looking for other people and a new sanctuary. Naturally, it’s only like thirty minutes before someone’s leg’s in a bear trap and the monsters are bearing down on them.

But hey, at least they’ve got a nifty way to kill the critters with a sound overdose and a dose of vitamin shotgun.

Their excursions past the “sand path” take them into far more dangerous territory, but also fills in some burning questions they’ve had. Are there other survivors? What became of the world? Is there any place left that’s safe?

They fall in with an old family friend, Emmett (Cillian Murphy), who’s since become a survivalist recluse after losing his own kin. He’s a little less keen on the idea of taking in a family with an infant, but gradually he starts to bond with the Abbotts — especially their deaf daughter. The group starts to investigate a strange radio song that’s been playing that suggests that the U.S. government put into play a last-ditch effort to save the species.

As with A Quiet Place, the sequel isn’t a horror movie in a conventional sense, even with murderous monsters roaming around. It’s remarkably restrained in showing gore and corpses — often giving us suggestions or very brief glimpses — and busies itself instead with raising tension through sound design. Essays could be written on how both of these films use sound to brilliant effect, such as taking it away entirely when Regan loses her cochlear implant or letting the sad music tell the story more than the dialogue.

As much as I praise the sound design, I also have to fault it. Almost all of the conversations that the characters have are nearly impossible to hear and understand, at least with subtitles off, and I kept rewinding scenes trying to figure out what they were saying before going, “Eh, I think I got it through context.”

Emily Blunt is amazing as always, but I honestly missed John Krasinski’s presence, which is made all the more painful when we get to see him again in the brief opening flashback. Murphy is a good addition, though, coming across as more damaged than reliable, and his Emmett gives us a compelling character arc as he advances toward believing and living once more.

My only other quibble is that Part II never makes a strong case for why everyone doesn’t hunker down and stay put. Why the Abbotts feel that they have to leave town isn’t explained, nor why everyone continually leaves the safety of the shelter for hair-raising missions. I also don’t buy that all of these people would revert to being your stereotypical apocalyptic feral barbarians in a little over a year.

A Quiet Place Part II does fine in continuing the story, but ultimately it doesn’t have much new to say. Weirdly enough, I think it’s a little too conservative when it needed to take a few more risks.

Didja notice?

  • The creature climbing out of the front bus window
  • Dang, leg in a bear trap. Yeah, that’s how I’d respond too.
  • The shoes on the train platform tell a story in and of themselves

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