Continuing on directly from the end of the first movie, after a quick Day 1 prologue showing off the initial stages of the invasion, A Quiet Place Part 2 follows the surviving family members as they escape their compromised safe haven taking a way to fight back against the monsters with them.
The quality has in no way dipped this time out, and if anything they have a bigger budget to play with, so everything on a surface level is about what you would expect. Well shot by a great crew and surprisingly verdant, the post apocalyptic focus being a subtle but pretty constant reminder with fading civilisation giving way to industrial decay and new plant life.
The cast are all strong, very thankfully including the child actors who put in outstanding horror performances. New addition Cillian Murphy is as good as you would expect from him, this was no phoned in acting job and Murphy gives a good exploration of a broken man rediscovering hope and community.
The use of, or more accurately lack of, sound is even more effective than in the previous movie with the perspective frequently shifting to a deaf character allowing for further experimentation with cutting the sound completely for varied effects.
One aspect which may disappoint is just how scary this film isn’t, a problem shared by the first entry in the series too. This is far from the scariest horror film you will see this year unless it happens to be the only one. There are some well executed jump scares at times, a benefit of a physical threat the filmmakers need to plan around and set up that is lost on the worst offenders. Haunting type movies can really devolve into cheap jump scares since assorted ghosts and demons can just pop up anywhere before vanishing with no consequences, but here the A Quiet Place franchise distinguishes itself by actually selling these jump scares.
I’ve heard criticism that this is a more action orientated sequel, but the first film threw subtlety out of the window when it showed off one of its monsters in full within the first five minutes, so I take that as a nostalgia tinged moot point. The sequel actually does a lot to re-centre the monsters of the setting as a threat even when there’s now a countermeasure in play. It’s just that this isn’t that scary of a franchise, being presented more as a science fiction thriller than a hard horror.
There are sadly points where this film can feel a little uneven. Not that it gets bad as such but that a character will develop a temporary loss of senses to accommodate progressing the plot or setting up a set piece, the amount of times they will have the bad idea to wander off on their own is alarming. I swear one character must have been tripping out on painkillers, the absurdity of their little adventure off alone in the grand scheme of things! This is slight nitpicking of a feature that’s not wasting time having its characters mope when it could instead be running off to expand its world even further, though.
This enthusiasm is a strength as well as a weakness, they really do give you an expanded apocalyptic scenario with some neat twists here. It just also sometimes works against its characters own best interests to make it work. When a character is being a bit too dumb, it can be grating even as it course corrects or uses the temporary idiocy to set up something interesting.
There’s also the slight problem of giving us a glimpse of the Day 1 before skipping back to the current continuity. That Day 1 glimpse of everything kicking off was very welcome, but going that big first thing really skews expectations for the quieter film to come. The inciting incident is the peak of action, the actual apocalypse, and the exploration of the new normal which makes up the rest of the movie just isn’t at the same speed. They do manage to avert a false climax here, I feel, as events eventually escalate in interesting ways in the actual story. But they did themselves no favours and if they want to show the fall of civilisation it should be a whole other movie and not an opening for their ongoing story, as much as I did like getting to see some of that chaos unfold.
It’s at least as good as the original, and some people may prefer it for how it does more to expand the scope of this world this time around. I’ve seen some people say it’s worse, but I suspect this is the sad fact of the fresh “new” feeling being lessened now the setting is a known quality. That feeling of unevenness I mention is there, but not a deal breaker. Once it settles into the story it wants to tell, things pick up from the initial sharp drop caused by showing some of the highest action possible with this story giving a glimpse of Day 1 before it refocuses on one family getting by in a well worn post-end of the world.
I do recommend A Quiet Place Part 2 though and enjoyed it more than The Conjuring 3, as much as I enjoyed that as well. Horror leading the charge for the reopening of cinema is really paying off for fans and this is a strong part of that.
Luke Greensmith is an active folklorist and big horror fan who also works in film across a few roles. While this can cover quite a wide range of things, he’s a dedicated horror fan at heart and pretty involved with horror communities both online and local to him. You can find their folklore work on the Ghost Story Guys Podcast, their own LukeLore podcast, and accompanying the artist Wanda Fraser’s Dark Arts series as well as on the Grimoire of Horror itself.