GORE IN THE STORE
A QUIET PLACE PART II ****
Directed by John Krasinski.
Starring Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, Cillian Murphy.
Horror, US, 97 minutes, certificate 15.
Released in the UK in cinemas June 3rd.
Fourteen months after its original release date was shelved, cinema audiences finally get the chance to see John Krasinski’s long awaited sequel to his surprise smash hit. The original A QUIET PLACE seemed to come out of nowhere. Produced by Michael Bay and directed by and starring Jim from THE OFFICE, no one seemed to expect much but seemed delighted as it proved itself as one of the most immersive cinema experiences of 2018, equally surprising everyone that you could gain total silence from a cinema audience with its pared back storytelling and own ingenious use of sound. While it may not have quite the sustained pace of its predecessor, A QUIET PLACE PART II easily proves that Krasinski’s previous foray into horror was no fluke.
We are plunged back to DAY 1 in a clever and tense opening sequence that recalls several elements we are already familiar with from before that set the audience on edge (the pharmacy, the noisy space shuttle toy) before taking in a little league baseball game. The knowledge that something bad is coming helps inflame an already tense atmosphere which explodes into a superbly controlled set piece consisting of long fluid takes that show the small town being overrun by alien invaders. Its display of small-town Americana being annihilated by an unstoppable force recalls Spielberg at his relentless best without totally aping his style; the shot of an alien’s arm reaching out from the smashed windshield of an out-of-control bus being a prime example. As opening sequences go it is one of the most arresting in some time and might surpass that of the original film.
From here we are plunged back into the immediate aftermath of part 1. Without going into further spoilers, it can at least be said that the tense atmosphere and near silence is ramped up once more. Despite their recent loss the stakes are higher than ever for the Abbott family as they leave what was once the safe haven of their home. Encountering Cillian Murphy’s Emmett, the stage is set for confrontation against the lethal invaders as well as the possible threat of what may be left of civilisation.
The cast acquit themselves admirably yet again with the advancement of their characters, aided by Krasinski’s script. Millicent Simmonds proves herself to be one of horror cinemas most sympathetic heroines to face off against aliens since Ellen Ripley, with her own quest to take them out, whilst Noah Jupe gains the audience’s sympathy even more with his own anxiety inducing set pieces to contend with.
While the pace may flag in its latter half compared to its predecessor, Krasinski still delivers a crowd-pleasing piece of spectacle that deserves to be seen on a big screen. Where the majority of sequels feel the need to go bigger and edge more to the ridiculous, Krasinski keeps things admirably pared down in line with the first film, making the most of elements such as a claustrophobic pressure chamber and an abandoned train carriage. Where it goes from here with the already announced follow up is anyone’s guess, particularly with Jeff Nichols taking the reins. It seems a smart move but whether it can hold an audience to silent attention like this, as was the case with the socially distanced yet still busy audience I experienced it with, will have to be seen. Hopefully the wait won’t be as long as the one we have all just gone through as this seems to be that rare beast; a big budget mainstream horror franchise that is as smart as it is scary and always entertaining.