A Quiet Place Part II

There’s something wonderful about a movie double bill at the cinema. It’s the break between the two films that makes it special. Normally when the credits roll everyone gets up to leave, some immediately, some more slowly and some not until the end of the scroll (guess which I am) and it is the time at which the shared experience ends and everyone goes back to their lives. When you do a double bill though this clearly doesn’t happen and the contrast of all the people staying together at the time at which they would commonly go just creates this great sense of community.

This was the case more than ever at the A Quiet Place and A Quiet Place Part II screening I went to last night because we had all really been through something. What’s more during that break none of us knew what was coming next and the nerves were palpable. I’m guessing many of us had seen the first one as it came out three years ago but the sequel was a preview as it is not released until next Thursday. You can also catch it today in the UK in special Bank Holiday Monday showings.

Whatever you do though, you absolutely must make sure you’ve viewed the first one before seeing this second part. In fact even if you have seen it already you have to rewatch it as narratively they run right back to back and the fresher the initial film is in your mind the better your enjoyment of this continuation will be.

2018’s A Quiet Place was a brilliantly gripping drama about one family trying to survive in a world where making a sound would almost instantly bring nasty murderous monsters down on you. First there were five of them, then there were four, then there were five again in a brilliant story move because bringing a baby into this scenario is absolutely terrifying, and then there were four once more. The film then ended on a cliffhanger and I remember staying until the very end (for sensible rather than film geeky reasons this time) in the hope that there would be a post credit sequence that never came. Well my patience has been rewarded (we’ve all had to wait an extra year for this due to the pandemic, I actually had tickets booked last April before the cinemas closed) because A Quiet Place Part II is an excellent follow up.

There is a great little flashback at the start where we go back to the day the monsters arrive. One of the strengths of the film film is that we didn’t see this, the story starting right in the thick of it instead, but it is actually quite a nice little addition here now that they’ve got the extra budget for it. After this though things pick up exactly where the last one left off. This film seems to rely more on set pieces than its predecessor which, while it had its moments where this was magnificently cranked up, was tense all the way through. These new moments of high excitement still work in beautiful service of the plot though and the touching family element that was such an important aspect previously is sustained. In fact without this the scenes where the monsters come wouldn’t work nearly as well because the real trick here is not just making you nervous that our main players will get eaten but in really really making you care that they don’t.

A Quiet Place had a cast of only seven people and while number two opens things up quite a lot it still keeps its focus on the Abbots. Emily Blunt, Noah Jupe and Millicent Simmonds are all brilliant with each of them carrying their characters continued arcs precisely. Cillian Murphy is also brought into this group efficiently with you becoming as invested in him as you are the others even though he is a newbie. Blunt is so good here, any thoughts of her in Mary Poppins Returns and (thankfully) Wild Mountain Thyme being pushed from your mind. Arnie famously became synonymous with his Uzi 9mm but actually any time that Emily Blunt picks up a gun, as she does in these films, Looper, Sicario and Edge of Tomorrow, brilliant cinematic moments follow. Here she is the perfect feminist successor to Ellen Ripley, driving the plot, not being objectified, not having typically masculine fighting skills, being a normal woman responding exceptionally to extreme circumstances, oh and fighting violent, animalistic predators from outer space. Actually though the MVP this time round is Simmonds.

Unlike Jupe, Millicent Simmonds seems not to have aged at all in the ensuing years. She might be a little taller or that could just be how the plot elevates her. Her Regan emerges like an adolescent Rey as the soul and spirit of the adventure. Her development more than anyone’s is a beautiful extension of what was set up before and I can’t wait to see how her story ends.

Yep, we’re not there yet as while the cliffhanger at the end of part one could have been a Thelma and Louise/Butch and Sundance style denouement, this one is definitely setting up for a final instalment. Providing writer/director (and in this one, cameo actor) John Krasinski is still on board, which I am sure he will be, then frankly I can’t wait for the triple bill.

Shhh, tell everyone.

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