★★★★ - STUFF
- The first A Quiet Place was a blast of horror originality in 2018.
The film took one of the very oldest of horror tropes, one that dates back at least to H.G. Wells’ The War of The Worlds, and made it fresh again by shrinking the global conflict down to the size of one nuclear family.
Like The Road, Aliens and Children of Men, the genius of A Quiet Place was in the way it sidelined the big picture to boil human survival down to its most foundational algorithm: Can the parent – actual or found – save the child?
A Quiet Place wove its magic by being a damn good human drama first and foremost. The family dynamic and the near-impossibility of even surviving in the world was sketched out in a few opening scenes that still seem to me as perfect a wordless piece of world-building as anyone ever needs to make.
A Quiet Place Part II opens with a deft callback to that film. It is so eerily effective that when Dad Lee's (John Krasinski) truck shatters the early morning silence and swings noisily into a park, it comes as a shock. A title card has already announced this is “Day One”, but the realisation that we are about to watch the first minutes of the invasion is still a surprise – and kind of a delight.
That opening stanza works perfectly well as an introduction to the world of A Quiet Place. But, if you haven't seen the original, there are some well-placed moments and treats in the sequel you'll be sadly oblivious to.
From there, we move to the immediate aftermath of the first film, with mother Evelyn (Emily Blunt), daughter Regan and son Marcus (Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe – Both still remarkable) fleeing the wreckage of their home with a newborn baby, and setting out towards what might be a neighbour's stronghold.
A Quiet Place Part II soon splits into parallel narratives, with Evelyn and Marcus left behind, while Regan and a new friend follow a mysterious radio broadcast towards a promised island sanctuary. It turns out these aliens can't swim, which is thankfully the only way in which A Quiet Place Part II ever reminded me of M. Night Shyamalan's sadly hilarious Signs.
Maybe the sequel can never quite capture the freshness and originality of the original. And the necessity of introducing new characters can only dilute the claustrophobia that was so palpable there. But, adding Djimon Hounsou and Cillian Murphy to any cast can never be a bad thing, and these new players definitely do their share of heavy lifting.
If you liked or loved the original, I reckon you'll be satisfied with this second chapter. And if there's a trilogy in the offing, count me in.
- Graeme Tuckett, STUFF
A Quiet Place Part II is now playing at Light House Cinema!