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If you're reading this, then you probably visited my review of 2018's A Quiet Place. Hence, you know how much I absolutely love that movie. A low-budget, high-concept horror flick that surprised everyone, including myself, ultimately becoming one of the very best films of the respective year, as well as one of the best original horror stories in the last couple of decades. Now, I acknowledge that John Krasinski created something that could very well turn out to be the "next big thing" when it comes to horror franchises. However, that doesn't mean I support that endeavor. Artistically, I would much rather prefer for this to be a one-off, but I know better than anyone that if an original movie is tremendously successful at the box office - especially one that requires a short amount of money to make - sequel talks will obviously emerge.
My only major issue with the first film was, in fact, its ending. It's an admittedly badass conclusion, but it also felt like a cry to Hollywood in order to extend the story. I didn't expect this type of ending for such a character-driven personal project, but in all honesty, I rather have a sequel to A Quiet Place than the 10th SAW film or the continuation of the never-ending Fast & Furious saga. With that said, my expectations were still pretty high due to Krasinski's even more impactful involvement in the movie. With sole screenwriting credit and only possessing a few minutes of screentime this time around, Krasinski gets more time to focus on his primary technical role, delivering, once again, a masterfully directed film.
I find A Quiet Place Part II inferior to its predecessor in many ways, but the extreme levels of suspense generated by Krasinski's flawless direction are still the highlight of this saga. The beautifully shot opening sequence (cinematography by Polly Morgan) sets up the incredibly high level of tension for the subsequent monster scenes, all requiring the viewers to hold their breath for several minutes. These nerve-wracking moments are elevated by terrific acting performances across the board - I'll get there - but Krasinski demonstrates exquisite knowledge of the art of filmmaking, using his best attributes in favor of the movie. Boasting a nail-biting atmosphere and effective jumpscares, the characters find a few imaginative evasion maneuvers to avoid the monsters.
However, this leads me to one of my main issues with this sequel. The first film establishes the creatures in its ruthless, merciless first few minutes, where it becomes clear that if someone makes the tiniest noise and if a monster is nearby, they're dead. There's a minimal chance of survival, and the emotionally resonant ending also attests to this fundamental, lethal aspect of the whole "sound-hunting beasts" concept. Nevertheless, during the entire runtime of the sequel, including the phenomenal opening, it's like we're witnessing different monsters. If the first movie already had a couple of logic-related issues, this sequel increases the number of personal nitpicks.
People can run away quite a bit before the creatures get close - so much that I firmly believed the film would go back to the opening sequence to explain how the main characters managed to escape a specific attack. Protagonists survive absurdly improbable situations due to heavy plot armor. Even a couple of character/plot decisions are questionable, to say the least, particularly the trigger that sets up the third act. After the first movie, where everything feels surprisingly grounded and far from nonsensical, jumping to the continuation of the same story and having to disconnect our brain continuously is a bit disappointing, especially since the screenplay remains incredibly focused on the characters.
Almost every element in this film feels less emotionally impactful than the original, but it's far from being a massive letdown. In fact, having in mind the competition in the genre, A Quiet Place Part II might even be one of the best horror sequels ever for all I know. Firstly, the actors are absolutely magnificent. Emily Blunt (Evelyn) and Cillian Murphy - who I didn't expect to have that much importance and screentime as he has - bring their experience to a movie where the young actors are the ones who truly shine. Noah Jupe (Marcus) and Millicent Simmonds (Regan) steal the spotlight from the more renowned colleagues, delivering impressive performances that will surely guarantee them several award nominations by the end of the year.
The focus on deeply exploring the characters strengthens the emotional connection with the viewers, making every scene carry a certain gravitas. Ethical dilemmas are beautifully tackled through Murphy's character, Emmett, who creates an unexpected bond with Regan. The latter stands out as a brave, smart, altruist deaf girl who should inspire many people worldwide - it's worth remembering that Simmonds, a real-life deaf girl, brings outstanding authenticity to her role. Just like the original film, most dialogues contain sign language, so the narrative is also developed through visual storytelling. Once again, Krasinski knows perfectly when and how to tell the audience something exclusively through the camera, many times just pure silence, keeping the viewers' attention on the screen at all times.
Throughout the sequel, there are various visual nods and callbacks to the first flick that I also appreciated quite a lot, such as a certain object on a shelf or a repeated sentence. The ending carries less emotional weight than the original's brutal final minutes, but the entire last act will go down as one of the most impeccably edited conclusions of the year. Michael P. Shawver needs to cross-cut between excruciatingly tense sequences on completely different locations with important characters facing the same level of danger. The action is displayed seamlessly, letting the viewers genuinely enjoy the last moments of the movie without annoyingly choppy editing. Marco Beltrami's score is really gripping during the entirety of these last few scenes.
A Quiet Place Part II feels less than its predecessor in almost every element, but it's still one of the best sequels of the genre. From the riveting, frenetic opening sequence - much of it shot in long, uncut takes - to one of the most impressively edited endings I've seen in years, John Krasinski maintains an incredibly tense, suspenseful atmosphere throughout the entire runtime, something that's becoming a trademark of his directing career. Story-wise, the characters continue to be the main focus of the narrative. Boasting emotional dilemmas and bold character development, the kids have a surprising impact on the overall screenplay. Cillian Murphy and Emily Blunt are remarkable, but Noah Jupe and Millicent Simmonds are astonishing, especially the latter. However, the monsters are depicted in a much less threatening, lethal manner, leading to many questionable plot decisions, as well as absurd survival situations. In addition to this, the world-building lacks significant revelations and creative ideas. Overall, it's a less emotionally resonant film than the original, which doesn't exactly let me down, but I did expect more from this sequel. Still, I highly recommend watching it at the theater. After all, both audience and critics are enjoying this movie tremendously...