de facto film reviews 3 stars

The 2018 smash hit, A Quiet Place, was the kind of success no one saw coming. A fairly low budget genre film starring one of the Hollywood’s most treasured “it couples” in Emily Blunt and John Krasinski — also serving as director and co-writer — became one of the most profitable films of the 2010’s, so news of a sequel was surely expected. What wasn’t expected, however, was the delay in in the film’s release. Yes, the long-awaited sequel was perhaps the biggest cinematic casualty of the pandemic, with its initial release slated the very week the world shut down. Now that things are slowly turning around, the long-delayed sequel is finally here.  As one of the few that wasn’t totally wowed by the first film — it certainly had great sequences of tension and strong acting, the plotting just felt too contrived and the last act went off the rails, it’s a nice surprise to say A Quiet Place Part 2 builds off the best aspects of the first film, in a sequel that stands far above its predecessor.

Part 2 opens with a terrifying flashback to day 1 of the alien arrival that channels the palpable horror of the beach sequence in Jaws and even Spielberg’s War of the Worlds. We witness the Abbott family (Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, and John Krasinski, making a cameo appearance) at a local baseball game when the blind creatures begin to attack. Krasinski’s knack for tension is on full display during this sequence that leaves you breathless before the opening title card even shows up. We then cut to the moment where the first film left off with the Abbott family, sans father Lee (Krasinski), forced to leave their home after having defeated several of the creatures with the assistance of Regan’s hearing aid. Now in the outside world, they run into Emmett (Cillian Murphy), a longtime family friend who has also suffered great tragedy, with the hopes of finding a safe haven.

By opening up the size and scale of the world established in the first film, Krasinski explores many unanswered questions, while still keeping the right amount of mystique. We get to see other survivors and how they’ve adapted, with Cillian Murphy’s Elliott describing most survivors as “not worth saving”. The core family dynamic remains compelling with Cillian Murphy proving to be a great addition to the cast. The actor gives some of his strongest work over the past few years; his scenes with Millicent Simmonds are some of the films best non-set pieces. Simmonds gives the films best performance with a star-making turn that feels wise well beyond her years.

Krasinski continues to show significant growth as a filmmaker. There are a handful of sequences that are absolutely nerve-shredding, but what’s more impressive is how Krasinski is able to play around with audience expectations. Several sequences play out as expected, but many don’t, leading to some of the films most shocking, visceral moments. More so than just a number of sequences, there’s a consistent level of tension that doesn’t let up until the credits roll. Krasinski is able to keep the white-knuckle intensity on full-blast, even during the more *ahem* quiet moments. The luscious 35mm cinematography by Polly Morgan creates a sense of claustrophobia through the wide open spaces and empty landscapes. Returning is the next-level sound design that impresses even more here.

Alongside superb work from editor Michael P. Shawver, A Quiet Place Part 2 is especially lean and tightly constructed for a modern blockbuster. Running at a swift 97 minutes, there’s very little, if any, fat on this films bones. Even the more obnoxious plot contrivances that plague the last act aren’t lingered on and are salvaged by the gripping finale.

A Quiet Place Part 2 soars above the first film with a sequel that’s more terrifying, engrossing and just downright better. John Krasinski continues to impress as a filmmaker, showing a true sophistication for nail-biting suspense and expertly crafted jolts. This is a heart-filled and thrilling experience that, yes, demands to be seen on the big screen.