One of the brilliant aspects of John Krasinski 2018 blockbuster A Quiet Place was the way its sound design enhanced the overall experience of the film. It pulled the audience into the world of the film to the point where you were afraid to eat popcorn while watching for fear of alerting one of the many aliens lurking around the central characters. Although A Quiet Place Part II does not always maintain the same consistent level of tension as its predecessor, there is more than enough suspense to keep one on the edge of their seats.
The sense of dread cranks up rather quickly via a flashback to Day 1 of the aliens’ arrival. The noisiest section of the film, Krasinski takes us back to a time where America was filled with the happy sounds of family, friendship and children playing. Life was never the same for Evelyn and Lee Abbott (Emily Blunt and Krasinski) and their daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds) and sons Marcus (Noah Jupe) and Beau (Dean Woodward) after that day. Now into Day 474 of their survival the Abbotts have experienced great tragedy and some bittersweet victories.
Picking up right where the previous film left off, Evelyn, Regan, Marcus, and Evelyn’s newborn son must find a new place to take shelter now that their home has been destroyed. Since discovering that the high frequency of Regan’s cochlear implant incapacitates the aliens, the family now carries a portable amplifier with them to use as a weapon. While not strong enough to kill the creatures, who track their prey by sound, it is an effective tool for keeping the creatures at bay.
The momentary reprieve comes in handy when the family accidently triggers homemade traps while passing through an old steel mill. A mistake that not only draws aliens to the spot, but also results in Marcus getting caught in a bear trap. It turns out that the traps were set by Emmett (Cillian Murphy), a former friend of Lee’s who has found shelter in the mill. Reluctant to help the family, and still grieving over the loss of his loved ones, the reclusive Emmett takes the Abbotts in with the understanding that they will leave in a few days.
Emmett may have given up hope for mankind, but Regan is determined to pick up her father’s dream of finding a place where civilization is thriving. After Marcus comes across a radio signal that plays the song “Beyond the Sea” on loop, Regan deciphers that it is a coded message to survivors. Taking off on her own to find a boat that will take her to the island where the signal originated, Regan embarks on a harrowing journey where fearsome aliens are just one of the dangers she will need to avoid.
In making Regan the main protagonist this time around, A Quiet Place Part II expands the world its characters inhabit while still offering plenty of thrilling set pieces. While the danger felt more intimate in first film, the changing of environments poses even more threats. The tension crackles the most when Krasinski focuses on Regan and Emmett, who has been tasked with bringing Evelyn’s daughter home, as they navigate new terrain and learn to trust each other. Everything from how they communicate with each other, as Regan is hearing impaired, to how they handle each new obstacle is fascinating to observe. The only downside to Regan’s arc is that it overshadows the plights of Evelyn and Marcus in the film.
Regan’s leaving the nest may usher her growth into adulthood, but it impedes of the growth of the family she left behind. Although Krasinski tries his best to maximize the mill to build suspense, it becomes apparent that there is simply not much for Evelyn and Marcus to do. Their subplot feels rather repetitive by the halfway point of the film.
While slightly more uneven than the original, A Quiet Place Part II still has several interesting ideas worth unpacking. The 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray combo pack includes bonus content that helps to expand viewers understanding of this world. One of the standout featurettes is the “Director’s Diary: Filming with John Krasinski” as Krasinski really dives into his vision for the film and the significance of setting a large portion of the film in an old mill. “Pulling Back the Curtain” is another feature worth a look as it touches on the director’s views on the chaos the aliens bring and how it relates to evolution and overpopulation.
A Quiet Place Part II may not reach the heights of the original, but Krasinski crafts a world that one is happy to quietly tip toe through again.
Bonus Features: Director’s Diary: Filming with John Krasinski, Pulling Back the Curtain, Regan’s Journey, Surviving the Marina, Detectable Disturbance: Visual Effects and Sound Design