A Quiet Place Part II (2020) ☆☆☆(3/4): They must be quiet as before

“A Quiet Place Part II” is a nice sequel which expands its story and characters a bit for whatever may come next. Although it is understandably not that fresh mainly because of what its predecessor so entertainingly achieved on the screen a few years ago, the overall result is still tense and engaging nonetheless, and, again, I found myself not making any noise at all along with a few other audiences around me during the screening at last night.

After the impressive opening sequence showing how the world was suddenly turned upside down for Evelyn Abbott (Emily Blunt) and her family as well as many other people on the Earth around one year ago, the movie promptly goes forward to the point not long after the ending of the previous film. Although she unfortunately lost her husband, Evelyn knows too well that she and her three kids must move on right now for their survival, and we see them hurriedly preparing to leave a spot where they had hidden from those alien monsters for last several months.

As many of you remember, those alien monsters are quite dangerous entities to say the least. Besides having sharp teeth and claws, they can move really quick and fast in addition to being highly sensitive to sound, and Evelyn and her kids have to be very careful about not making any loud noise. At least, they luckily happened to discover the alien monsters’ certain vulnerability, which can be quite helpful in beating the alien monsters if they can deliver this valuable piece of knowledge to other survivors who might be out there.

However, not long after they embark on their risky journey outside, Evelyn and her kids find themselves stuck in an abandoned factory where a guy named Emmett (Cillian Murphy), who turns out to be her husband’s close friend, has been hiding for a while. Although he is not so eager to help them, Emmett eventually lets Evelyn and her kids into his little private hiding place, and we get to know more about his long despair and frustration coupled with heartbreaking personal loss. While trying to survive day by day, he has already lost hope on the verge of paranoia and insanity, and we later see what might have happened to him if he had let himself mired more in despair and paranoid.

As Evelyn focuses on dealing with an immediate problem with her son Marcuse (Noah Jupe), her deaf daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds) becomes quite determined to accomplish their mission by any means necessary. It seems that there is a safe shelter for survivors where that valuable knowledge on the weakness of the alien monsters can be effectively utilized for a good reason, and all Regan has to do is checking out a certain nearby region where that safe shelter is supposedly located.

Around that narrative point, the screenplay by director/co-producer/writer John Krasinski, who also briefly appears during the opening sequence as required, begins to accumulate more tension along the plot as its main characters struggle with their respective perilous circumstances, and we accordingly get a series of suspenseful moments where they must be really quiet as silently trembling in fear and panic. I must point out that the alien monsters are still the least interesting element in the story, but they do look scary and menacing nonetheless whenever they appear, and Krasinski and his crew members including editor Michael P. Shawver and cinematographer Polly Morgan skillfully dial up and down the level of tension as playing with our dread and expectation.

The story takes a bit of breath along with its main characters during the expected final act involved with that safe haven in question, but then, of course, the movie soon naturally returns to its usual intense mode during the following climax which effectively juggles more than one urgent situations on the screen without losing any narrative focus and momentum. In case of the final scene, it is delivered as neatly as expected with substantial dramatic impact, and you may find yourself hoping for the next sequel to follow.

Again, Krasinski draws good performances from his talented cast members. While Emily Blunt diligently holds the center as before, Millicent Simmonds, who has been more prominent thanks to the enormous success of the previous film as well as her strong performance in that film, is fabulous in her unadorned depiction of resilience and determination, and Cillian Murphy and Noah Jupe are also fine as the two other crucial characters in the story. In case of the other notable supporting performers in the movie including Djimon Hounsou, Scoot McNairy, and Okieriete Onaodowan, they are mostly stuck in their respective functional roles, but that is just a minor flaw at least.

In conclusion, “A Quiet Place Part II” is one or two steps below its predecessor, but it is still a well-made product packed with considerable skill and entertainment, and that reminded me of why I was so disappointed with “The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It” (2021). While that film is as predictable as “A Quiet Place Part II” in case of how it tries to scare and shock us, it is so clumsy and ineffective that I came to observe its story and characters from the distance without much care or attention, and that makes me appreciate “A Quiet Place Part II” more for its competent direction and enjoyable mood and performances. To be frank with you, I will not mind several more sequels as long as they do it as right as this.

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