By Lori Perkins
Only the promise of a great movie experience would have enticed me to emerge form my pandemic foxhole, so once I had secured my A Quiet Place II cohort (the person I saw Part I with, who literally jumped out of his chair at the perfect moment), did I agree to go to the Thursday night 8:00 pm. showing, which promised a live Q & A with writer/director John Krasinski afterwards.
I was not disappointed. In fact, I was kind of thrilled, and relieved, that I agreed with Krasinski that this is a film that would loose much in home video watching. I was glad he and Paramount waited until the pandemic was in remission to release it. I hope we don’t have to wait that long for Part III (it is coming!)
So, the movie starts off with Day One of the alien invasion at a little league game in bucolic upstate NY (within commuting distance of NYC) where we see our only live shot of Lee Abbott, the dad in the previous installment, played by Krasinski, who gave his life to save his family. We also meet another dad neighbor, who ends up being the male father figure in this second film.
Cut to 474 Days later (and I am immediately asking myself, “how long was I in isolation during the pandemic?”), and it’s the day after the surviving Abbott family members – Mom, deaf teen daughter, tween son and newborn baby – are leaving their burning refuge to find a new home by following the glow of a burning rooftop fire in the distance. Turns out it belongs to the other dad, who is in mourning the loss of his own family. At first he does not want to help them, but the tenacity of the newly post-partum mom, played by Krasinski’s real-life wife Emily Blunt, and the deaf teen Regan, played by brilliant deaf actor Millicent Simmonds, and perhaps the promise of new life evidenced by the baby, convince Emmett to agree to try to save the world, or die trying.
It’s a different kind of audience tension than the first film, which, for me, was crystalized in the scene where silently Blunt gave birth without medication. I still find it hard to believe that three men were able to come up with that scenario. Though that kind of tension is repeated when tween Marcus steps on a bear trap as the alien creatures chase the fleeing family, the real can’t-move-moments of this movie are when all three of the characters you care about are facing simultaneous threats and the director cuts from one to the other to the other. The fear is relentless. There is just no escape.
In the live Q & A with Krasinski and J.J. Abrams after the showing, Krasinki explained that he originally decided to act in and direct the movie because he saw it as a family film, and not a genre horror film. He was able to recapture that fear for the family in this sequel, but add more action for those who preferred a more traditional horror film. Lots more aliens, and alien guts splattered in this one.
Krasinski also stated that deaf actor Millicent Simmonds was possibly the best experience he will ever have as a director, and that she brought a lot of depth to the role he could never have imagined. He said that working with young actors showed him that the young are “courageous and brave and will save the world,” just as her character does in the film.
He also told us that there will be A Quiet Place III, so the cinematic universe will continue, but he will not be writing (he wrote this film himself) or directing.
Here’s an earlier interview with Krasinski that covers some of this ground. But go yourself!