🎃🏳️🌈 Nicholas (Nic) 🏳️🌈🎃’s review published on Letterboxd:
"The people that are left are not the kind of people worth saving."
A solid trip to the big screen. It is hard to believe that A Quiet Place: Part II, the sequel to John Krasinski's 2018 horror hit, was shelved for an entire year because the COVID-19 pandemic screwed everything up. Although I was originally hesitant regarding the announcement of A Quiet Place: Part II due to how effective the first film's restrained nature was, I started to ease up to the idea of the sequel when I thought about how it could expand upon the franchise's universe. Unfortunately, despite the sequel providing plenty of nerve-wracking tension and terrific filmmaking, it's messier and far more uneven than its predecessor.
A Quiet Place: Part II immediately follows the events of the first film where, after losing Lee (John Krasinski) and discovering a way to defeat the alien creatures, the Abbott family (Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe) leaves home and ventures into the outside world. As they go out into the unknown, they reunite with a former family friend Emmett (Cillian Murphy), who has lost everything, and learn that the aliens aren't the only threats remaining on Earth.
A Quiet Place: Part II's opens with a bang by revealing, through flashbacks, how the apocalypse started, and it is relentlessly suspenseful and exciting. Once again, this film carries over the strengths of its predecessors by utilising a "show, don't tell" approach to its narrative. As such, the heavy focus on visuals and sounds is back, and it largely benefits the presentation. When the characters are out in the open, they try their best to remain silent and not attract any attention from the creatures. The danger of the environments is further accentuated by Polly Morgan's gorgeous 35mm cinematography, panning through the scenery and emphasising objects causing the most noise.
The visual presentation as a whole is satisfying, and the dedicated focus on the sound design heightens the stakes and sense of danger throughout A Quiet Place: Part II. With Krasinski almost entirely behind the camera, he has the task of balancing the expansion of the world while focusing on the characters and their journeys. For what it's worth, Krasinski should be satisfied with the direction he's taken. Whereas the first film focused on parenthood and familial dynamics, the sequel is about the kids and their maturation as they venture out into the world. Since Krasinski lets the themes and characters breathe, the sequel is proven to be more than just a mere cash grab. Had anyone else taken over the director's chair, A Quiet Place: Part II wouldn't feel effective. It helps that Michael P. Shawver's editing maintains tension, and Cillian Murphy and Djimon Hounsou are terrific new additions to the cast (despite the latter being underused). While Emily Blunt delivers a fantastic performance, the real focus is on Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe, and they're the true standouts of A Quiet Place: Part II. Once again, with Simmonds being deaf in real life, her performance always feels authentic, and the emotional vulnerability in Jupe's acting works.
Even though the sequel has plenty going for it, where does it go wrong? For starters, the pacing lacks consistency, and the plotting isn't emotionally satisfying. Although one major storyline is handled well, the other runs the risk of being boring. There's something lacking in the story to make it compelling, which is difficult to explain, and the character drama feels flat at times. Krasinski doesn't lose track of heart, but A Quiet Place: Part II feels too safe with how it wants to handle character storylines, and because little risks are pulled off, the sequel barely provides anything refreshing to the table. Marco Beltrami proves he's an amazing composer, but when it comes to films like A Quiet Place: Part II, can we please leave out intrusive music during the most suspenseful sequences? And why are we going to keep up the trend of including jumpscare sound effects (hence why the Sound/Music element loses a couple of points)? While A Quiet Place: Part II indeed delivers with the scares, something feels less effective this time around, and I didn't find myself utterly terrified by what was happening on screen.
Although Krasinski's attempts to expand upon the world are admirable in their own ways, the introduction of two environments leads to subplots that feel out-of-the-blue and better suited to a spin-off movie. The ingredients of A Quiet Place's world indeed exist and are evident, but they aren't used well enough to make any hint of franchise lore compelling and warrant the whole necessity of this film's existence.
A Quiet Place: Part II is a frustratingly uneven sequel, but it is worth watching on the big screen despite its flaws. My disappointment with this film might be partially because of how long I waited to see this at the cinemas, but don't let my review scare you away from the cinemas. It's an expertly made film, with near-flawless sound design and John Krasinski's confident and personal direction on display. Yet even though A Quiet Place: Part II tries to expand upon its world and character journeys, the overall storytelling doesn't always satisfying. It's another fun horror blockbuster, but in the end, I'm just bummed that two major horror films I've been dying to see (which also includes Army of the Dead) have been, frankly, underwhelming.