When word that Jim from “The Office,” a comedy actor in a sitcom, was going to write and direct a science-fiction horror film, people were fairly weary. But after the first previews dropped and audiences saw the film’s concept on display for just a few minutes, the tides quickly turned.
And after the film was released, the world generally agreed “A Quiet Place” — the story of a family in a post-apocalyptic world forced to live in silence while hiding from aliens with ultra-sensitive hearing — was one of the best films of 2018.
With a follow up in the works shortly after the initial release, the sequel began filming in 2019 and was scheduled to come out in March 2020. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was pushed back until 2021, which only built up the curiosity and suspense over whether a second film in the series could work.
Thankfully, “A Quiet Place Part II” was worth the wait. John Krasinski returns as director and the sole screenwriter, delivering a fantastic continuation of the series that equals the first film in every way while still building and expanding the world it’s set in.
Picking up immediately where the first film left off, the Abbott family has discovered the aliens are vulnerable to high-frequency audio feedback. Facing the terrors of the outside world following tragic events at home, they continue their fight for survival in silence.
Following the death of husband and father Lee (played by Krasinski), mother Evelyn (Emily Blunt), deaf daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds), son Marcus (Noah Jupe) and a newborn baby leave their farm and make their way to a fire beacon atop a hill a couple dozen miles away.
They soon stumble across Emmett (Cillian Murphy), a former friend of Lee, and convince him to help them find any other survivors. Forced to venture into the unknown, they quickly realize that the creatures that hunt by sound are not the only threats that lurk beyond their silent path.
Even if the premise doesn’t sound too appealing, this movie is worth seeing for local readers because most of the production was filmed in Western New York. Eagle-eyed viewers will recognize scenes set in Akron, Dunkirk, Lackawanna, North Tonawanda and Barcelona Harbor on Lake Erie. One of the most beautifully shot scenes takes place amid dozens of abandoned vehicles on the South Grand Island Bridge, one of the area’s most recognizable sites.
As a premise built on the importance of sound, or its lack thereof, the sound design in the film is once again phenomenal. Having the sounds of nature like wind or birds just noticeable enough in an otherwise silent scene provides that little bit of comfort before someone hits something or knocks something over and that explosion of sound feels like a death sentence.
On the other hand, the real protagonist of this part of the story is Regan, once again played perfectly by Simmonds. Because she is deaf in the film and real life, her performance is nearly all visual, either with sign language or just the emotion in her face. While every actor here is great, especially Blunt and Murphy, it’s Simmonds who once again breaks out as a star.
As a horror and thriller film, all the credit goes to Krasinski whose vision and experience keep improving. Everything from letting a scene play out in a longer take to intercutting between two or three different scenes happening simultaneously helps build the tension on multiple levels. There aren’t as many horrific or violent moments or jump scares as your typical horror movie, but that tension of not knowing what’s going to happen is the scariest thing of all.
In a brisk hour-and-a-half, “A Quiet Place Part II” wastes no time telling this chapter of the ongoing story while also setting up the inevitable third installment. It does everything the first movie did right and expands to a bigger, scarier world. If the next one is as good as these two, I can’t wait to see what new thrills and impressive filmmaking Krasinski has in store.