Back in 2018, one horror film silently took the genre by storm with its originality, surprisingly developed characters, and terrifying use of silence in its impeccable sound design. It was deservedly a huge success, both commercially and critically, so it was only a matter of time before more money was going to be thrown at a sequel…
Picking up directly where the first film left off (after a thrilling prologue), we join the Abbot family (mother Emily Blunt, and kids Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe) once again, now in the wake of the tragedy of the first film’s climax. As they continue their journey in an apocalyptic world where the slightest bit of sound can draw violent monsters seemingly from miles away, the family reunite with old friend and neighbour Emmet (Cillian Murphy) in the hopes of finding sanctuary. But they quickly learn that the world outside their once-idyllic farm haven is more dangerous than ever before.
A Quiet Place Part II begins with enormous promise, thanks to an opening scene that brings to life the harrowing panic of the first arrival of the monstrous beings. The terror is palpable, and the ratcheting tension is flawlessly executed. It could also be argued that the prologue resonates stronger than ever now, as we see a happy gathering – with no social distancing! – before apocalypse strikes and the world changes forever.
But following this solid opening, the film quickly stumbles and falls into the trap that most horror sequels find themselves in: desperately searching for a narrative to justify its existence, before defeatedly falling back on excessive CGI and action. The quality of the prologue begs the question – why wasn’t this just a prequel? The first film picked up months into the apocalypse, so there would be plenty of ground to cover in a prequel. But no! We are stuck with a bland, meandering continuation with nothing new to say.
The issue here is the script. By the time the film ends, we have learned absolutely nothing more about the characters – or indeed the monsters and the world they inhabit – than we left 2018’s A Quiet Place with. This sequel simply does nothing to develop anything, including the new characters. Cillian Murphy is completely wasted, while a crowbarred-in encounter with a psychotic human group is rushed and unexplored. A sequel’s job is, arguably, to expand a film’s world and our understanding of its characters. A Quiet Place Part II fails on both counts.
The structure and pacing of the film are also rather poor, splitting the group, and by extension the film, into two subplots that almost feel like side quests. If the first film was a video game, this sequel is simply DLC.