John Krasinski manages to deliver a sequel that in appearance is just similar enough to the original, with some genius ideas to expand the storyline.
‘A Quiet Place’ was an excellent exercise in suspense born from the unique and revolutionary circumstance; now that theatres have become louder than ever, why not opt for silence as a narrative instrument. The move worked perfectly, primarily because it was bang on the money in creating tension with the minimum of elements, but also unveiled John Krasinski’s talent behind the camera, while revamping the whole alien invasion vibe from an entirely unparalleled perspective.
As with any sample of the genre worth its salt, the packaging is subtle enough to not represent a distraction to audiences from the bottom line; the story of a family and how they go through mourning the loss of a child as they prepare to embark upon a new life in a hostile world which no longer belongs to them. The idea of a sequel is always unsettling, as the risk of repeating old patterns or, in the worst-case scenario, spoiling the legacy ideas of the original is ever-present. But the creators managed to sidestep both these pitfalls, and in contrast, ‘A Quiet Place Part II’ performs miracles by not resembling its predecessor beyond the cursory, while at the same time, transcending the boundaries of expression to expand the story’s universe. We’re introduced to new characters who gel exquisitely while familiar faces are developed naturally. Leaves me wishing all sequels were made with similar awareness to innovation.
‘A Quiet Place Part II’ begins with what must be the best scene from both installments, a prologue to help us understand how we arrived here, shot entirely with an astounding sense of depth of field and resulting in Krasinski’s stubborn crusade to survive his own novel ideas while seeking out fresh ones. The action plays out in the claustrophobic space (a feature that’s just as disturbing this time around, if not more so, as the oxygen-starved bunker is the ideal setting for a couple of chilling scenes), presents us with fresh information about the invaders without overdoing it (while paying tribute to genre classic B-movies into the bargain) and, at this moment of existential crisis, introduces an alternative on the mistrust/fear of one’s neighbor.
And here’s where the sequel shines with particular intensity, as the director and screenwriters take the opportunity to reflect on the true monsters in society and the pivotal role empathy plays in toppling them. The more critical among us might find fault with an abuse of certain stylistic solutions (two points of climax are dealt with in an almost identical use of crosscut shots), but in general terms, ‘A Quiet Place Part II’ is a splendid film albeit for its ability to trap us in a world we perceive as our own before redrawing the boundaries. In this sense, we see some remarkably brave directing from Krasinski, breaking with the prevailing point of view, that of the great Emily Blunt, and giving much of the role to Millicent Simmonds and Cillian Murphy, thereby conveying the sense that we’re privy to a story that’s not only coherent with the original, but also well-rounded with its own identity, jam-packed with quandaries and byways for future stories. My money’s on this saga being earmarked in a few years’ time as a (obligatory) turning point for a genre which, more now than ever before, speaks to us more with greater fluency and coherence.