“A Quiet Place Part II” picks up exactly where the first film left off over three years ago, just moments after Evelyn Abbott (Emily Blunt) reloads her gun after defeating the aliens alongside her daughter Regan, bringing moviegoers right back into the action.
With their home up in flames, the remaining Abbott family members — Evelyn, Regan, Marcus and an unnamed new baby — have no choice but to venture beyond their homestead into the unknown world that lies beyond. Tension is palpable as they reach the edge of the sand path they created to soften their footsteps, but they push on, carefully maneuvering through the overgrown forest. Both the Abbotts and the audience are aware that every single step they take is a matter of life and death. Even the smallest noise could trigger the violent, sound-seeking aliens that killed their patriarch, Lee Abbott.
Despite the danger, things are going well for the family until they accidentally trigger a wire trap, causing dozens of glass bottles to fall and clatter together loudly. The wide-eyed Evelyn utters just one word (one of the film’s few spoken lines of dialogue) to her children: “Run.” Viewers are left watching helplessly with their hearts pounding as the Abbotts dash through an open field, the sounds of aliens screeching in the too-near distance.
While its predecessor was applauded for taking place in a relatively contained setting, it’s the expansion of the universe that makes “A Quiet Place Part II” an exciting sequel. A multitude of new locations are explored, and the uncertainties that come along with them make the film all the more suspenseful, keeping viewers on their toes for its entire duration.
John Krasinski, the writer and director, was aware that these choices also allowed for more character development, especially in the case of Regan (Millicent Simmonds). “The first movie is about a family in isolation, and then this movie is about a little girl who realizes that if you stay in isolation and stay stagnant, nothing good can happen,” said Krasinski in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.
Regan takes center stage in this movie, determined to continue her father’s mission to find a safe place for their family to reside. She finds herself at odds with Emmett (Cillian Murphy), an old family friend who refuses to let the Abbotts stay with him for more than one night at his bunker. She becomes even more frustrated with him after she learns he hasn’t made any attempt to decode a radio message that could be alluding to a place safe from the aliens. Knowing that her father would do the same, Regan sneaks away, leaving her mother and brother behind in hopes of finding some answers and a home for her family.
Simmonds, who is deaf in real life, easily takes the role of the heroine. Regan steals the show — every scene she is in is captivating, especially when considering all of the tragic events Regan witnessed just a few days prior. She is the heart of the movie, stepping without hesitation into her father’s shoes to become the family’s protector.
Simmonds also served as inspiration for some of the most impactful moments of the film. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Krasinski broke down the opening sequence of “A Quiet Place Part II,” specifically focusing on a moment where the camera shifts so that the viewers can see things from Regan’s perspective.
“Anytime you’re in a close-up shot of Millie, I established that you can get into her envelope. And by that, we mean you hear the world the way she hears the world,” said Krasinski, “Where I got that in the first movie was actually based on something Millie’s mom told me about Millie. One day when we were first getting to know each other, I said, ‘Can Millie hear anything?’ And her mom said, ‘She actually can. It’s just all dimmed down as if it’s been really muffled. So, if there was a big sound behind her, she’d hear it. And she can hear laughter and things like that, but very, very low.’ So, I thought, wow, what if I tried to put that in the movie actually as Millie heard.”
While most horror films try to frighten viewers with intense music and screams, “A Quiet Place Part II” instills fear in its audience through silence. There is no shortage of jump scares, but the movie’s quiet nature makes these moments even more terrifying, the silence making each scare more hair-raising than the last. Long, silent continuous shots also work to build suspense throughout, keeping the action going so there is rarely a break in momentum.
Regan’s perspective also adds to the overall scare factor. The anxiety that viewers experience is almost tangible as aliens she cannot hear loom in the background just behind her, hunting. These scenes from Regan’s perspective make the film stand out among other scary movies, allowing “A Quiet Place Part II” to bring something new to the genre, as well as make it a more inclusive film by representing a member of the deaf community. Regan is the only one who can combat the aliens, using her cochlear implant to make a high-pitched noise, disorienting them. Her disability is not seen as a weakness — in fact, it is the only answer to the world’s most dangerous problem.
The film also kept its momentum during the first weekend after its release, making $57 million at the box office, breaking the record for pandemic openings. Earlier this week, it was announced that the “A Quiet Place” universe will continue to expand — a spinoff movie has been slated for release in March 2023.
“A Quiet Place Part II” demands to be seen in theaters, where moviegoers can be fully immersed in its impressive sound design and special effects. The idea of watching this film digitally on a laptop or cell phone dulls in comparison, especially having experienced how riveting it was on the silver screen.