It’s never easy delivering a sequel to a popular film, but it can help if your original film was a box-office hit that left more than a few unanswered questions. John Krasinski‘s A Quiet Place (2018) checks both those boxes, and now three years later he’s returning audiences to a world overrun by alien monsters with incredible hearing. Rather than provide answers leftover from its predecessor, though, A Quiet Place Part II instead raises new ones. Happily, it’s also an intense and entertaining thrill ride that will have you jumping in your seat as it surpasses the original at nearly every turn.
While the first film dropped viewers into an already decimated world, the sequel opens at the very beginning. Lee Abbott (Krasinski) arrives late to his son Marcus’ (Noah Jupe) baseball game, but the idyllic American summer afternoon is disrupted by a large fiery object pushing through the sky towards the earth. The air takes on an uncertain feeling, and as people head back to their homes and cars the town’s main street becomes a slaughterhouse as large, fast-moving creatures begin to tear their way through the population. Lee and his wife Evelyn (Emily Blunt) scramble with the three kids as the world as they know it crumbles before their eyes.
That flashback quickly gives way to the family’s present predicament — well, what’s left of the family — mere minutes after the events of the first film’s ending. Evelyn, Marcus, Regan (Millicent Simmonds), and the newborn baby pack up to leave their farmhouse behind. A light in the distant hills has caught their attention, but while the journey leads them to a familiar face it also opens them up to new threats and a possible respite from the monstrous horrors.
A Quiet Place Part II is once again a quick ride clocking in at just over ninety minutes, and Krasinski keeps things moving with little time for neither fat nor meat. That’s not necessarily a complaint as the film’s pacing keeps the adrenaline flowing and attention piqued. Krasinski tackles the script solo this time around while still directing, and he seems even less interested in explaining things this time around. He even squeezes in another glance at the first film’s infamous and rightly maligned whiteboard as if to double down on his Swiss cheese approach to exposition, but the film keeps viewers in the moment meaning most won’t care until long after the end credits roll.
Blunt remains a compelling performer as at home in genre fare as she is comedy or drama, and she’s once again put through the ringer here. Evelyn is left as the sole guardian for her remaining children, and her desperate refusal to lose another one fuels some highly intense sequences and exchanges. Jupe, while a fine child actor, is unfortunately saddled with a character guaranteed to leave you thinking the wrong kid died in the first film. Sounds harsh, but good gravy is Marcus someone you would immediately toss to the monsters to aid your own getaway. More seriously, his character here seems to have regressed after the gains seen in A Quiet Place making his choices and actions fairly insufferable until the final moments.
The real human standouts of A Quiet Place Part II are Simmonds and Cillian Murphy as a family friend who lost his own loved ones to the creatures’ onslaught. Murphy’s Emmett is a broken man, and his haunted eyes reveal his own inner struggle at the risk of trying to help others. He and Regan develop a bond as stand-ins for the child and father they lost, respectively, and the two actors deliver some some affecting interactions en route to the promise of safety. Simmonds is once again terrific, and she manages some cheer-worthy action beats along the way.
But enough about the people — how are the monsters and horror beats?! Like most horror sequels, A Quiet Place Part II ups the ante with creature appearances. Some will take that as bad news worried that it could muffle the tension, but solid CG effects and some terrifically executed jump scares mean they’re every bit as thrilling despite the increased frequency and numbers. Krasinski and editor Michael P. Shawver also do great work with a pair of sequences that alternate between action unfolding in multiple locales. The film jumps back and forth between tightly crafted set-pieces ratcheting up the tension with each transition.
Add in another strong score by Marco Beltrami, energetic and attractive visuals from cinematographer Polly Morgan, and a bigger look at the world itself, and A Quiet Place Part II should more than satisfy fans of the first. For better or worse, Krasinski once again ends the film with the feeling of story left unfinished. It’s less of a cliffhanger than the first, but it’s clear there’s still more to come in this family’s fight against alien invaders.