Two “parts” into writer/director John Krasinski’s sci-fi shushing franchise, it appears that aliens came to Earth for the sole purpose of yeeting humans. The gangly, bat-like ETs don’t eat people. In fact, they don’t appear to eat anything. Or do anything, other than wait around for earthlings to make a noise and then kabob them with their claws and chuck them into the hardest nearby object. Which looks cool! But also makes no sense.
That’s really the whole “problem” with both Quiet Places: When they surrender to the visceral thrills inherent in the preposterously silly situation, they’re wickedly fun. However, as soon as they start pointing to the clunky logistics and plot elements, it becomes evident that the films operate on the “got yer nose” level of clever. Those paying even the least bit of attention will leave Part II laughing about hidden hearing aids and asking why rational adults would play a record with a clue instead of recording an explicit message with instructions. But hey, scary monsters go “Boo!”
After a prologue that shows the initial moments after the human-hurling space invaders arrived, Part II follows Evelyn (Emily Blunt), Regan (Millicent Simmonds), Marcus (Noah Jupe), and a remarkably well-behaved baby (who also curiously never needs to eat) as they flee their home in search of…something? What they find is slightly better than nebulous nothing: Cillian Murphy!
Murphy plays Emmett, a sad dad whose kids and wife died. Remember: According to the weirdly reductive overtones of the Quiet Place series, fathers are the single most important family members. That’s the only explanation for why Krasinksi hammered a new replacement daddy into this installment instead of letting Emily f’n Blunt carry more of it. Blunt spends most of the film asking for Murphy to save her kids, crying with joy when one learns guns r cool, and rarely doing anything that shows personality or intelligence.
In a hilarious doubling down on the silly deus ex machina from the first film, Regan and Emmett head off to broadcast feedback from a hearing aid over the radio. This would be like if M Night Shyamalan made Signs 2: We Need More Water! When Evelyn goes to retrieve drugs and supplies, she leaves an anxious Marcus to watch the baby. Easily the most successful parts of the film are the cross-cut sequences that flip back and forth from those three tense scenarios, as if the audience was channel surfing and every program was some variation of “Oh shit, lookout!”
To be clear, as far as “oh shit, lookout!” goes, A Quiet Place Part II puts the capital F from “F that” in fun. Things only collapse if you think logically at any point for any reason, even briefly. This isn’t some unfair analysis either. Like, it’s fine that the film shows Regan firing a shotgun with one hand without dislocating a wrist or shoulder. That’s action movie physics, where “dumb” is a Newtonian law. It’s less fine that the more spoilery explanations are provided, the more provocatively stupid things get. Oh, and it’s substantially less fine how the single Black character in the film is treated…
Still, watching this movie on a gigantic screen with booming sound after a year away from theaters felt like a fried slice of cinematic heaven. Fried in that it’s definitely not “good” or good for you. Slice in that it is insubstantial and has no real reason to exist. Heaven in that the claustrophobia and tension felt can’t be duplicated watching at home. If/when we get a third one of these, please let Emily f’n Blunt carry it without any new daddies and explain why aliens crossed a bajillion light years to play lawn darts with human beings.
Grade = B-
Other Critical Voices to Consider
Travis Hopson of Punch Drunk Critics says “A Quiet Place Part II is a sequel that entertains just enough to get us to the next movie, and it’s disappointing to have to think of it that way when we know this thing Krasinski has created can take our breath away.”
Katie Walsh of the Tribune News Service says “What’s so maddening about A Quiet Place Part II is the unused potential. Krasinski opens up the world and timeline of the film, but doesn’t utilize it in any meaningful way, introducing new ideas but then jettisoning the opportunity.”
Hoai-Tran Bui at Slashfilm says “Because it follows the continuing adventures of the Abbott family, it can’t just recycle the premise of the first film as many a horror sequel has done. So instead, it fills up the runtime with plot — and a fairly run-of-the-mill post-apocalyptic thriller plot, at that.”