A Quiet Place Part II: Four stars for Cillian Murphy’s ruthless new film – the ingenuity never falters

Film review: ‘More of the same’ has rarely been carried off with such elan. Roll on Part III

Cillian Murphy in A Quiet Place Part II

Film Title: A Quiet Place Part II

Director: John Krasinski

Starring: Emily Blunt, Cillian Murphy, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, Djimon Hounsou, John Krasinski

Genre: Horror

Running Time: 97 min

Mon, Jun 7, 2021, 05:00

   

Anyone hoping for some vast expansion or deep digging into unexplored subtext is likely to be a tad disappointed by the sequel to John Krasinski’s terrific 2018 horror film about a world that doesn’t dare to cough audibly. But as a continuation of the original it can hardly be faulted. The set-ups are every bit a tense as before. The cast continue to throw themselves at the material with admirable gusto. Cillian Murphy proves an excellent addition to the team. “More of the same” has rarely been carried off with such elan.

The most significant change of tone comes in a superb opening sequence that takes us back to the day of the invasion. Over the past year, we’ve all been made uncomfortable by films that pack actors together in small spaces with no ventilation. (Is A Night at the Opera the least Covid-friendly film?) Anyone familiar with the first movie will be similarly disconcerted by the prospect of Krasinski, back for an extended cameo, battering and clashing his way about the local store as if giant superhearing lizard-things weren’t lurking at every corner. 

In one of several accidental nods to our current crises – the film was ready for release before “all this” started – friends and neighbours have gathered around the television to calmly ponder a catastrophe that is happening a long way away. Later, during a baseball game, fireballs scrape across the sky. It begins.

This is a risky move for the filmmakers. Starting the earlier film in medias res was a masterstroke. Who wants to sit through half an hour of the characters deducing something the audience worked out from reading the tagline on the way in? But this is as gripping an alien invasion as has ever been put on film. 

‘It’s all right. It’s all right,’ Emily Blunt mutters unconvincingly as policemen get their heads bitten off. The pace is frantic. The confusion is borderline nauseating

The jeopardy and unease are increased by filtering the action through the parents’ efforts to reassure their children there’s nothing to be alarmed at. “It’s all right. It’s all right,” Emily Blunt, returning as the harassed Evelyn, mutters unconvincingly as policemen get their heads bitten off. The pace is frantic. The confusion is borderline nauseating.

Back in the film’s present, Evelyn is on the wander with her deaf daughter Regan (the transcendent Millicent Simmonds), her plucky son Marcus (strong Noah Jupe), and her newly born baby. As before, Regan is using the feedback on her hearing aid as an anti-alien defence mechanism, but that can do nothing to help Marcus when he steps into a vicious mantrap. 

They hobble their way towards an abandoned iron foundry where Emmett (Murphy), an old friend, has fashioned himself a solitary fortress. A familiar emotional journey then begins. Hitherto in the depths of selfish despair, Emmett, who has lost all his family, is nudged back towards caring for humanity.

Never mind all that. Although Krasinsky provides his characters with psychological ballast – easier to do when the cast is so strong – A Quiet Place Part II is really about working new wheezes with the existing formula. The ingenuity never falters through a ruthless 97 minutes. Emmet and Regan embark on a journey towards a beacon in the wilderness. Mother and remaining children seek to make the best of dangerous isolation. Would the filmmakers really be so cruel as to put a baby in repeated peril? They would, and they do so with the invention of a deranged W Heath Robinson.

A Quiet Place Part II does happen upon a few plot holes. One particularly illogical jump is baffling in a film that is otherwise as finely tuned as a $10,000 watch. The deus is distinctly ex machina in the later stages. And then . . . We wouldn’t dream of spoiling the ending, but we will say that the film is set up to generate the Part III it so richly deserves.

On release from Monday, June 7th