Monday, July 05, 2021

Guest Post: A Quiet Place, Part II (2021)

A Quiet Place, Part II: 

The Kick-Ass Kids Are Alright

By Jonas Schwartz


A Quiet Place, Part II, which has already been a bonanza at the post-lockdown box office, arrives on Paramount Plus on July 12, and John Krasinski has managed to make lightning strike twice with this spine-tingling second filmPart IIcaptures the horror and anxiety of the first film while building up its characters’ growth and setting up for all-out war in a future Part III.


The sequel (or second in the eventual trilogy) focuses on how the events of the first film have forced the Abbott’s children, Marcus (Noah Jupe) and particularly Regan (Millicent Simmonds) to step up after the death of their father, Lee (Krasinski). Though their mother (Emily Blunt) continues to be a force of strength for the family, with her caring for an infant child, one whose screams could lead the vicious creatures right to them, the narrative relies on Regan’s resilience and Marcus’s slow but essential maturity in this new age.


The film cleverly begins in the past, the first day the alien monsters drop to earth and attack. The audience is reminded of the past, with Lee Abbott still the quick-thinking leader of the family, and is even drawn back to the original film’s horrific opening by Lee’s trip to the same 5-and-10 store in THIS prologue. The first scene gives a glimpse of other countries under attack and introduces the townspeople who will be the aliens’ first victims. The prologue also establishes an important new character to the sequel, Emmett (Cillian Murphy), who could become a major antagonist or substitute patriarch. 


Director Krasinski, who also wrote the script, quickly flashes forward to moments after the original film has ended and Lee has already sacrificed himself to save his family. Almost immediately, he brings the family to dire straits and then quicky separates them, which gives each character an opportunity to suit up and not just be a dead weight on the family. The resourceful Regan — whose deafness becomes an asset — takes the helm quickly, like a short-stack Sigourney Weaver, venturing out, testing her enemies, and seeking not only escape but hope for a monster-free world. Marcus takes a slower path that resembles Barbara, the catatonic victim of Night of the Living Dead. Tasked with keeping his infant brother safe, he makes jaw dropping mistakes, thinks only on instinct (panic actually), and puts everyone in danger. But the film has hope in the new man of the house’s eventual initiative. 


The final act expertly juxtaposes the separated characters’ actions so that, though each is miles from the other, they subconsciously work together as a unit to destroy the menace. It is agile use of cross-cutting, sound, and narrative ingenuity. 


Though supported by a talented cast, Simmonds steals the film as the teenager who accesses her limitations and uses them as a weapon. She is casting central’s perfect version of a damsel in distress — small, innocent, hearing impaired — but she’s 100 percent modern Samurai warrior and is exciting to follow. 

As in many middle entries in a trilogy, A Quiet Place, Part II shifts the story only slightly askew to keep the audience intrigued for the climax of the final film. For that reason, much of this film will need to be reexamined after watching Part III in the future. Because so little is still understood — How many creatures actually crashed on earth? Are they the strategic antagonists or merely hench-monsters to something even more nefarious? How has the rest of the world dealt with this invasion? — the meat of the story may still come later. A Quiet Place, Part II gives enough of a bridge to invest the audience in things to come. 

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