Sunday, 30 May 2021

A Quiet Place Part 2

Silence Running

A Quiet Place Part 2
2020 USA Directed by John Krasinski
UK cinema release print.

Warning: Spoilers for the first movie, if you’ve not seen that one.

A Quiet Place Part 2 is, obviously, the sequel to John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place from a few years ago (reviewed here) and, like Krasinski, I was somewhat sceptical of the idea of a sequel. The first film is such a brilliant, modern version of an old 1950s style sci-fi horror movie, with well timed scares galore, that a sequel involving the giant, grasshopper like aliens (and they do seem to be aliens, it’s visually confirmed at the start of this movie) who have the weakness of sounds in a certain tonal range seems a bit of a one trick pony in terms of what you could do for a follow up and, in truth, it kind of is. However, when the trick is repeated in variations equally as convincingly and as potently as this one... well I’m glad Krasinski was finally convinced to write and direct the sequel because, frankly, he’s made another one of the best of these sci-fi horror movies and the two work together so well as an organic whole that, well, I don’t have enough words to say how brilliant this sequel is.

Once again he directs his real life wife, the always amazing Emily Blunt as Evelyn, Noah Jupe as her son Marcus and last, but by no means least, the remarkable Millicent Simmonds playing the deaf daughter Regan. Blunt and Jupe are absolutely brilliant in this but, like the first one, Simmonds is just so impressive here that her screen presence just sets the film ablaze whenever she’s on.

Now, the cynic in me would ask why we’d also need the acting presence of John Krasinski in the movie. After all, the father had died, sacrificing himself for his children’s survival at the end of the last film. However, he’s found a way to really make it work in an extended pre-credits flashback sequence which is anything but redundant. It’s a look at Day 1 of the giant bug invasion and we see it all starting, leading into some elements from the last film and with some nice call backs... such as his other young toddler son who we saw killed brutally in the first sequence of the last movie. This pre-credits section does two important things...

One, it reminds the audience just how lethal these creatures are, who have no sight but hunt by sound, re-enforcing the idea that people should all be very quiet when they’re around. So the tension is set up straight away and you remember to fear the presence of these monsters all over again. Secondly, though, it introduces a new character called Emmett, played by the wonderful Cillian Murphy. It’s a chance to see how his character was before the invasion and what his relationship with the central family is, so we can later witness how his character has become slowly devastated and desensitised by the act of his own survival. It’s a nice touch and really sets up things emotionally for the audience.

After this it’s a simple story but shot in a slightly convoluted way, taking on a  few dark turns as it weaves its way from the closing day of the last film into a progression towards two objectives, one of which is just to find other people, the other of which is... something which should be obvious but which is given as a big dose of hope to ensure that one of the characters ‘swallows the pill’, so to speak... and accepts the mission. Like any good horror movie director, Krasinski manages to divide the new group of five... the original family minus the dad but plus the youngster born towards the end of the last film and Cillian Murphy’s new character... so that we have three terrifying story elements going on at once in extended set pieces cross cutting with each other. These include some beautiful transitional shots and edits such as the swing of a rifle and torch to the right of screen becoming a door in another location being opened at the same speed and direction. It’s deft and wonderful stuff, to be sure.

 At some point Krasinski merges two of the groups back together for more horror while Millicent Simmonds and Cillian Murphy are off facing both the big bugs and new dangers I won’t go into... while also meeting up with Djimon Hounsou and accidentally bringing horror to a colony of survivors before their mission is accomplished, such as it is. And while both remaining pieces of action are still crosscutting, we have the lovely moment where the actions of one character in one strand of this adventure, due to an acceptable contrivance, saves three other characters in a totally different location two days journey from themselves. It also is a nice moment which shows the children in both segments as the hope of the future as much as anything else and the shot of a hearing aid next to a broadcast microphone probably says something much more clever than the likes of myself could understand as some kind of a metaphor for the hearing impaired saving the world... in some ways.

And all this with Marco Beltrami’s wonderful follow up score too, which is suitably terrifying and moving when called for and which, I’m happy to say, has been released as a limited edition CD from La La Land records... I’ve got mine on order from the US and I’m looking forward to appreciating the score away from the images it helps support.

And I don’t have much more to say on this one, I guess. John Krasinski has once again managed to fashion a truly stellar horror movie which works on pretty much all levels and which is, surprisingly, the equal of the first. I’d recommend A Quiet Place Part 2 to pretty much anyone who likes these kinds of movies (as I would the first) and I can’t wait to grab a Blu Ray when it’s released. But, honestly, go see it at the cinema because, once again, the sound design is superb and Krasinski plays with it to enhance the fear and also throw in a few audio red herrings here and there. A prefect cinema film and that’s where it initially needs to be seen. Go tell your friends!

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