There was nothing, apart from box office, that suggested the 2018 survival horror A Quiet Place needed a sequel. Indeed, in the classic sci-fi/horror tradition, “monster’s dead, movie’s over” as Roger Corman once said. More narrowly, in the Invaders sub-genre, “Once you find the aliens’ weakness, there’s a quick mop-up and the movie’s over.”
Mars Attacks parodies this, for example, with the Slim Whitman albums (which is remarkably relevant to this franchise). In Night of the Living Dead, once it’s discovered that zombies are slow, weak and stupid (forget the beginning of the film), there’s a quick redneck rampage to handle it. They didn’t do that in the first A Quiet Place, but it sort of goes without saying these days.
Let’s look at that box office again: The original placed 15th for 2018, beating out horror franchises for Halloween, The Nun (Conjure-verse), The First Purge and Fifty Shades Freed. For non-horror franchises it beat out Ocean’s 8, Fantastic Beasts, and desperate wannabe franchise Ready Player One—all on a $50M budget. That kind of success demands to be franchised. (Which is why Netflix made that Sandra-Bullock-is-blind movie.)
Writer/director John Krasinski returns with a script he has sole credit on, and the movie begins with some prequel action where he’s in front of the camera as well. The first movie began in media res, as they say, with us only knowing the world as it has become—infested with super-fast murder machines—and, frankly, that’s okay. Exposition is dumb. Seriously, leave it out. All we really get in the prequel action is “Well, they’re from outer space.” Doesn’t matter. Nobody cares. The movie wisely goes no further than that.
Then we pick up right where the last movie ends, with the survivors moving on for reasons I did not understand. Something was on fire? Not, “Oh my God, we have to get this super-easy way to defeat monsters out to the general public so we can reclaim the planet!” The whole set-up is a little “the movie had to happen”. The find a pre-disaster friend who’s all “You gotta go.” But then the deaf girl gets it in her head to do the obvious (save the world) and the friend goes after her because Emily Blunt—whom he was just about to consign to death, infant and all—begs him to.
I would, too. Emily Blunt is very convincing. I never think I’m going to like her but I do, every time. And this is a good time to talk about why this movie works, just like the first one: Krasinski is an actor, and he makes his movies about acting. A good actor doesn’t need Shakespeare. A good actor just needs a character and a situation—horror’s as good as any. Blunt tears it up. She’s not the main character though, and this is another good thing about the film: It does not try to remake the original. It is a completely different story.
The main characters in this are Millicent Simmond’s deaf girl, Regan (the actress is genuinely deaf) and the sidekick, the reluctant friend, played by Cillian Murphy.
That’s right: Krasinski is the only American in this film. Everyone else is British or Irish or French/Beninan (Djimon Honsou).
Oh, the cowardly son, played by Noah Blum also has his moment in the sun, which is nice.
I knew how the second act was going to play out by the end of the first act, and how the third act was going to play about by the end of the second act, but this does not detract from the quality of the execution. I did not know, for example, precisely who would live or die, and Krasinski apparently didn’t feel obliged to kill characters to give the movie any extra faux-gravitas.
The very thin movie premise, which was already strained by the end of the first film, is not helped here and the inevitable sequel is going to rip it to shreds. The monsters are literally just murder machines: They kill for no purpose whatsoever. It’s hard to imagine why. It’s not for food. We’re not a threat, somehow. It could be the noise we make, but All God’s Creatures make noise. Why us? Furthermore, they just kill and then go away, typically. Not always in this sequel, which is a situation so obvious it undermines the first film. But it’s fine.
As a movie-going experience, it was also fine. The trailers are back to full-on bludgeon-you-into-having-fun mode, which is really not fun. I was grateful for the parts of the movie that were from the deaf girl’s perspective, because my poor ears were battered by the first part of the film. I don’t know if they (my ears) have just had a year to recover or what, but they were throbbing by the time I left and I will be bringing ear plugs in the future.
As a fully vaccinated American, from all diseases and tyranny, now into the future, I didn’t have to wear a mask even in the lobby, which was nice. They’re rumbling about locking us down again of course, at which point this movie becomes simply a preview of the horrors to come.