2018’s A Quiet Place was a surprise, stealth hit and a franchise starter for John Krasinski, who might not have killed off his central character Lee if he’d known what a cash cow the brand might become. In a disheartening switch, Krasinski, the writer/director and producer here, swaps in Cillian Murphy as Emmett, a friend of Lee who knew of the family’s predicament all along and didn’t interfere. It’s understandable that there should be a male as part of the featured Abbott family, but this rapid reset undoes the impact of the first film. Why bemoan family members when there’s immediate off-the-peg substitutes available? Like Newt’s death at the start of Alien 3, re-setting the story inadvertently throws away the investment with the previous action.
That’s not the only problem with this sequel, which works a very similar set of moves on three times the budget, but with slightly less effect. We open with a flashback to the original alien attack, well done, but probably better left to the imagination. Then we join The Abbotts; Evelyn (Emily Blunt), and her kids Regan (Millicent Simmonds) and Marcus (Noah Jupe) as they plod through he desolate countryside after monsters laid waste to their farm. ‘When you saw our flame at night, why didn’t you help?’ asks Evelyn when she comes across Emmett, and he’s got no answer, and neither do we. Instead, Emmett just clicks into the team in the place of deceased husband Lee, a like-for-like substitution that lessens potential involvement.
After Regan deciphers a clue, she and Emmett arrive at a coastal town in search of a boat that promises an escape from their predicament; the monsters can’t swim, apparently. That the dockside is filled with marauding pirates is necessary to the series strategy of multiple jeopardies unfolding at once, but it seems strange that none of these zombie scumbots thought of actually using one of the boats for themselves to escape the predatory creatures breathing down their necks. The silence gimmick, very effective first time around, seems more like a novelty here, with no real discoveries about the aliens other than what was previously established.
Logic gaffes are plentiful here, but at least they serve the purpose of delivering thrills, and A Quiet Place: Part II delivers the requisite action, even with a similarly terse running time. Simmonds in particular is a stand-out, as she was in the first film, but while A Quiet Place was heralded as a minor classic, this slavish continuation feels like a golden goose pursued into something of a dead end.