The only note I wrote while watching A Quiet Place Part II reads: “This bear trap thing is really unfortunate.” That I only took one note isn’t because I was enraptured by the continued adventures of the Abbott family in a world where the smallest sound can bring murderous aliens upon them and all they care for but rather because it was the only sequence that raised my blood pressure in this strange, misconceived sequel to the 2018 smash horror hit. Then again, I was never a big fan of A Quiet Place, which I also found somewhat clunky beyond its interesting concept. So this sequel, which more or less repeats the same beats as the first right up to an almost identical conclusion, is certainly not made for me.
Still: The problems with A Quiet Place Part 2 are worth mentioning.
First and foremost: The family matriarch, Evelyn (Emily Blunt), ended the first film in a big power moment by killing one of the aliens after discovering her daughter, Regan (Millicent Simmonds), could disable them by amplifying her hearing aid. Here, she’s reduced to a strangely traditional woman’s role, taking second-shrift to the emotional arc of newcomer Emmett (Cillian Murphy) and his connection with Regan. Evelyn is left at home with her son Marcus (Noah Jupe) and the newborn baby boy born in one of the first film’s more tense sequences. Their B-plot mostly consists of them suffocating in a safe place while monsters lurk beyond.
Meanwhile, Regan and her surrogate father figure go on an adventure to meet other humans, where they mostly just fuck everything up. (Her actual father, Lee, played by writer-director John Krasinski, does turn up here, though.) It is strange that this story did not follow the family, led by Evelyn, making the best use of its newfound knowledge.
The various terror set-pieces are less effective in A Quiet Place Part 2 because we already know what the monsters look like (and they look lame), as well as how to defeat or avoid them. The aforementioned moment with the bear trap, set by another human in survival mode and in which Marcus steps, works like gangbusters because it provides visceral human pain that can’t be suppressed and the implication that this world is far more dangerous because scared humans no longer care for other humans. There’s a bit of this with Emmett, thematically, but it’s never quite as interesting or intense as it could be.
My perception of this sequel is that if you bought into the first movie, you’ll likely enjoy this one. It isn’t a situation where Kraskinsi escalates or expands the premise; this is no Alien to Aliens situation. This is just more of the same, just lesser and not even in a weird and memorable fashion. Perhaps the spinoff he’s producing will allow more exploration of the premise.
This 4K release features a few behind-the-scenes looks at the creation of the film, as well as a deep-dive with Krasinski. One of the more interesting behind-the-scenes documentaries concerns the sound design, which is the franchise’s greatest asset. It’s undeniable that these movies look and sound great. Even though the story didn’t connect with me, Krasinski has crafted an aesthetically gorgeous horror world that brings to mind other barren, post-apocalyptic wastelands without ever feeling stagey or strange. His characters sweat, bleed and cry. I’m glad I viewed this in 4K. My initial viewing was using our soundbar because our own baby was asleep (talk about an immersive viewing experience), but I later switched on my surround-sound headphones, and what a difference it makes.