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After a year of postponements due to the COVID-19 pandemic A Quiet Place Part II finally hit theaters on May 28, 2021. The long-awaited sequel to John Krasinski’s unexpected horror hit is a movie that offers us more or less the same premise, but with an expanded world where we actually find out both about the past and about the future of the movie’s four protagonists.
A Quiet Place was a refreshing horror movie in many ways. First of all, John Krasinski managed to create a pretty original standard for modern-day standards, which is not an easy task seeing how many horror movies with different plotlines we have. It was certainly not an easy task to come up with such a novelty, and although Krasinski certainly borrows elements from movies such as Alien or Wells’ War of the World, it has more than enough original elements to be labeled as original.
Secondly, the movie was atypically produced, with more artistic elements than your commonplace horror movie, but also without the overkill we see in Ari Aster’s movies, for example, movies that have an intrinsic artistic quality but are so self-absorbed that the art just keeps getting lost in between Aster proving himself and us that he is superior. Krasinski’s movie has the depth and authenticity of an artistic masterpiece but was filmed in a traditional Hollywood manner that better suits horror movies than an indie imitation of European cinematography. This is why A Quiet Place was such a big hit and why it has been named as one of the best horror movies in recent years.
Now, as far as sequels go, A Quiet Place Part II is an example of a good sequel in every way. It’s not like The Empire Strikes Back or The Godfather II, but it’s certainly better than the majority of sequels. A rule is that sequels tend to be worse than the original but A Quiet Place Part II managed to, just like its original, annihilate our prejudicial expectations and be at least on par with the first movie if not better.
Everything John Krasinski did well in the first movie is present in the sequel. The plot is a great expansion of the original’s world and it gives us an equal amount of both chills and thrills that we’ve seen in the original movie. The production was, once again, on a very high level and I wouldn’t be surprised if the movie’s sound department once again lands some nominations during the awards season. But, there are two things that the sequel, at least in my opinion, did even better – character development and world-building.
Character development was much more important in the sequel, as Krasinski finally got the liberty to explore his world. Namely, in the first movie, he had to create a world and put his characters there, describing the circumstances they have found themselves in. Having taken care of that, he got the chance to explore the characters and the world even more, which he did quite successfully. Not only has the family matured – especially Regan (Millicent Simmonds) – but we also see the evolution of some new characters, especially Cillian Murphy’s Emmett, whose story is also supplemented by the short prequel segment that we got to see at the beginning of the movie.
This prequel is tied to Krasinski’s world-building, as it explains how the menacing aliens came to Earth and what happened immediately after the first impact. But, not only has Krasinski given us an origin story for his plot, he has also presented us with a continuation of the original story that expands the world these characters live in and explain the living conditions that the world is currently exposed to. It was a great thing to add new locations and new characters to an already successful formula and we’re quite lucky that we got to see Krasinski’s creative genius at work here in A Quiet Place Part II.
The thing I didn’t like about the movie is pretty much the same as with the first one – it’s somewhat slow and not really scary. The pacing of the movie is very slow and for someone who likes more thrills, that isn’t necessarily a good thing. Such pacing does work with this movie, though, and I definitely agree that it shouldn’t be changed, but this is quite a subjective thing that I couldn’t really ignore in my final evaluation of the movie. If you compare it to the first two Conjuring movies for example, or even the Annabelle prequel (not the main movie, that one’s just odorless), you’ll realize what I am talking about. A Quiet Place goes so much slower than these three movies and that can get somewhat annoying at one point. Okay, I have to admit that the second part does a better job in this aspect, but there is still a significant difference in style.
As far as the horror is concerned, I would, personally, recategorize this movie as a psychological thriller. The aliens, although as creepy as human-eating aliens go, aren’t really that scary and the whole film builds its suspense more on the atmosphere than the actual threat. Certainly, I do understand that that was the point, but as Alfred Hitchcock said – I like to be scared. That is why most modern horror movies are just dull – they’re not scary. A Quiet Place comes very near, but it never really crosses the border between suspense and actual fear, which is an issue present in the second part as well.
These are not major issues, of course, and A Quiet Place is, indeed, that kind of movie but that is why I cannot give it a perfect score, as I gave to Conjuring 2. A Quiet Place Part II is in all rights a brilliant movie and a more than satisfactory sequel that will certainly capture your attention from start to finish. There’s a bit of Alien and a bit of The Last of Us, but it’s still original enough to merit the praise directed towards it. The issues I have with the movie mean nothing for a lot of viewers and it’s really just my perception of the genre.
Ultimately, realism is what scares us the most. What scares us is the fact that what we see in the movies might actually happen. A Quiet Place is not completely unlikely but it’s so abstract at the moment that remains a science-fiction thriller rather than an actual horror. But congratulations to Krasinski for a great franchise!