Following the events at home, the Abbott family now face the terrors of the outside world. Forced to venture into the unknown, they realize the creatures that hunt by sound are not the only threats lurking beyond the sand path. (from IMDB)
I typically do not like horror movies, but 2018’s A Quiet Place really connected with me. I don’t mind the thrill of monster movies – especially classic ones from our parents’ childhood, but when it gets supernatural and spiritual, it can often be especially disturbing and unsettling to the soul. PG-13 psychological thrillers like The Secret Window or ghost-centric stories like The Haunting or The Ring can be far more unsettling to a viewer like me. For A Quiet Place, the story centered around a family who have been living for over a year under the invasion of monsters that hunt by sound. They realize that they must live in near silence to survive, but the events of the film prove this to be a critical challenge. As a father of a young son myself, the theme of protecting your family at any cost is an impactful one–and it didn’t hurt at all that the father in the film was played by John Krasinski, who was known almost exclusively for his role as Jim Halpert in what is arguably my favorite TV show, The Office.
The horror in the first film is based largely on the fact that the family is being hunted by these creatures, and in the midst of it all, the mother in the family, played by Emily Blunt, is on the verge of giving birth to a new baby, all the while needing to keep quiet through it all. Everything from Krasinski’s subtle direction, to the strong acting, deeply human story, exceptional effects (which are used to add to the story, not drive it), and fantastic cinematic score from Marco Beltrami has made A Quiet Place my favorite “horror” movie. I was excited and definitely somewhat worried to hear a sequel was greenlit, but I was encouraged by the fact that everyone who had made the 2018 film was returning. And with a promising teaser released late 2019, I was cautiously excited to see this sequel. But then a worldwide pandemic happened. Finally, over a year after its original March 2020 release date, A Quiet Place: Part II is here, and it’s on the big screen: where it should be.
A Quiet Place: Part II feels like a natural continuation of the first film. The first film ended on quite a doozy of a moment, too. Before the sequel continues on from that ending, however, we’re given a flashback to Day One. In a wonderful slight-of-hand trick, the movie opens the same way as the first film, showing an empty street and a stop light, but then Krasinski’s character, Lee Abbott (a name we never even heard in the first film as most names weren’t even mentioned during the film), is seen driving to a mom-and-pop convenience store to grab some supplies on a completely normal day. It shows life for the Abbott’s before the invasion, and also just how these monsters first came to Earth. We’re reintroduced to these characters in yet another human and relatable way, and it’s such a gripping way to open the film. Krasinski–as the director–then transitions the film from past to present, picking up from the ending of the 2018 movie, and takes the Abbott family from the confines of their home to life beyond it. It’s how we get to see what life was for other people in their town after the invasion was like, and it’s how we meet Cillian Murphy’s character, Emmett. Emmett is a person not too unlike Emily Blunt’s Evelyn in how loss has affected their lives. Emmett is then reluctantly forced to help the Abbott’s, and in the process is dragged further out into unknown territory that makes survival even more difficult. It sets up one nail-biting scenario after another, and those who don’t like suspense are liable to be squirming in their seats.
Where A Quiet Place withheld a clear look at the monsters until later in the film, Part II gives us far more appearances of the horrifying creatures. But Krasinski continues to use the sight of them sparingly. Even when they’re shown ravaging larger groups of people this time around, it’s through the perspective of someone else, and it’s seldom shown in detail. Krasinski and company keep A Quiet Place: Part II safely within the PG-13 limits by not showing too much blood and gore. And, like other scary PG-13 horror films and even the old monster movies of the golden age of cinema, it works just as well to not show every detail and let the viewer’s imagination fill in the rest.
The monsters are clearly shown to have arrived on Earth from the sky, which continues to alleviate any allusions to the notion that these creatures could be demonic or spiritual; they’re just otherworldly monsters who attack and kill anything that makes a sound… which is still quite terrifying. There isn’t really any spiritual content in these films, but in the first movie, the family is shown silently holding hands and giving thanks at the dinner table. In Part II, the only spiritual content shows, during the prologue flashback, a man saying the Lord’s prayer as he hides under a table in fear. Lee then covers his mouth to make him be silent, but it isn’t to silence his prayer specifically; it’s to make sure no one is making any noise. (The same scene also speaks loudly toward keeping your cellphone on silent!) The first movie doesn’t represent any real significant human darkness (with the possible exception being the old man in the woods who Lee and Marcus find standing over his dead wife and then he chooses to scream to attract a monster to kill him), but Part II takes a little look into how some others may have reacted to this new way of life of living in silence and desperation. I felt like the previews suggested that nearly all of the other humans the Abbott’s may come in contact with would be evil, but — and not to spoil anything — really only one sequence has some main characters coming face-to-face with some pretty depraved people. The story stays centralized on the Abbott’s, and their newfound friend, Emmett, and it keeps the story having heart and warmth in the midst of this starkly desolate way of living.
The content, again, is quite PG-13 rated, but it is seldom gory or graphic. Still, there are plenty of harrowing moments and visuals. This time around, the characters find quite a few mummified remains of dead bodies that have slowly decayed since the monsters first arrived. We see these several times, and at least twice during jump scare scenes. But even when the monsters attack large groups of people, there may be a quick spray of blood in the background, but I seldom noticed it. Most of the monster-on-human violence is shown in quick cuts and in the background to minimize the gross visuals. The first pretty bloody scene happens when a character’s ankle is caught in a bear trap. They scream in pain and horror when it happens, and then we briefly see blood all over their leg and a quick view of the wound with holes in the skin and blood all over. Other scenes that show the monsters getting shot in the head often show the monster’s blood spraying in the air and sometimes spreading on the floor. In one sequence, a man is tied to a wooden post as a monster attacks and we see it slicing at the man with its long legs as he screams. We then see the water turn red below (and bits of stuff seem to hit the water too) as another character hides under the water. Another scene has monster blood spraying onto a person’s face after they hit it in the head with a metal rod. And after a person’s leg is wounded by a monster, we see dark blood on the floor in a very dimly lit room. Since we hear people speak this time around, there are just a couple moments where there is some language. Emmett uses the “S” word three times, “g*dd*mn” once (muttering it) and “d*mmit” once, while we hear “Oh my G-d” at least twice from characters fleeing the creatures. There is also one possible use of “J-sus Chr-st” later in the film, but it was tough to tell if that is what the character really said or not. There is no sexual content, but when some ragged humans find a girl, they remove her backpack and jacket, and start to lead her away, with it being possible that they had less than pure intentions for her. (But, thankfully, she escapes.)
A Quiet Place: Part II is a worthy sequel to its fantastic predecessor. It’s extremly intense, pretty violent–particularly when it involves the monsters–and not for the squeamish, but those who like suspense without perverse gore and gruesomeness (which is often just for the sake of shock value), A Quiet Place: Part II is excellent entertainment. The movie is setup pretty well to allow for a third film to be made, but the bar has been set so high with these two films that I would hate for there to be a third installment if it can’t at least match the quality of the first two. A Quiet Place: Part II is the perfect welcoming back to the cinema!
– John DiBiase (reviewed: 6/1/21)
4K UHD Special Features Review
2020’s A Quiet Place: Part II is finally available on disc to own, as well as through the usual digital providers. Here’s a look at the 4K transfer and the bonus features that come on the Blu-Ray disc as well as the iTunes digital copy.
A Quiet Place: Part II in 4K UHD – As you can expect, the 4K transfer for A Quiet Place: Part II is quite good. It’s clear, it’s colorful, and it really pops in this format. Krasinski shot on traditional film for most of the movie, so there is a grain to the image, but some scenes were digital, and you can especially see the clarity in those. This is the kind of movie that is probably sufficient in HD, but for me, it’s one I prefer having in 4K UHD.
Director’s Diary: Filming with John Krasinski (9:39) – John talks about not originally planning to make a sequel, but got excited about it when he had an idea for what a second movie might look like. He says the first movie is about protecting your kids, while this one addresses the question “what if that promise is broken?” He also talks about how this movie makes Millicent Simmonds’ character of Regan the main character as she tries to help save people. We then see brief glimpses of shooting in various locations, like Akron, NY which was used for the town in the opening flashback. John talks about using a driving rig for his wife, Emily, to drive the car through the town in one long, continuous shot (as the aliens attack). They then went to Buffalo for the steel mill set. And the train graveyard was filmed in Collins, NY. John closes out the wonderful featurette by saying that getting to make this movie might have been the greatest experience of his career! (1 “h*ll”)
Pulling Back the Curtain (3:48) talks about the monsters in the movie and how they changed a little for this movie. It addresses facts established about them in the first movie, like how they hunt in packs of 3. And John, when fleshing out details about the origins of the creatures, believes the creatures evolved from somewhere that had no light, so they must rely on their hearing.
Regan’s Journey (6:20) – Millie talks about how Regan wants to fill in her dad’s role now that he’s gone. (And Millie talks to us through the voice of an interpreter, since she’s deaf in real life.)
Surviving the Marina (5:01) – The filmmakers talk about finding the right marina for the film, and how they wanted to find an old Jaws type of marina. They ended up finding one and adding structures on to it to create what we saw in the film. Cillian Murphy also weighs in on the challenges of filming in the cold water late at night. (1 “a” word, 1 “Oh my G-d”)
Detectable Disturbance: Visual Effects and Sound Design (8:26) is about working with ILM and doing different things with the monsters than in the first movie. Lighting played a much bigger part this time as they were always shown in the dark in the first film, but are in the daylight in this movie as well. It also talks about about the way sound is used differently in this movie.
– John DiBiase, (reviewed: 8/7/21)
Parental Guide: Content Summary
Sex/Nudity: None, but when some ragged humans find a girl, they remove her backpack and jacket, and start to lead her away, with it being possible that they had less than pure intentions for her. (However, she escapes and we never know for sure.)
Vulgarity/Language: About 3 “S” words, 1 “g*dd*mn,” 1 “d*mmit,” 1 “h*ll,” 3 “Oh my G-d” and 1 possible “J-sus Chr-st”
Alcohol/Drugs: Emmett has vodka in his home; Evelyn uses the vodka to clean Marcus’ wound and he screams in pain.
Blood/Gore: Marcus has a little blood on his forehead in the flashback after the car Evelyn is driving stops suddenly; A character’s foot gets caught in a bear trap. They scream in pain and we see some blood when it is caught in the trap. He’s then rescued and carried to safety, and we see blood all down their leg. We then see a brief closeup of the wound with blood all over the ankle and some holes in the skin; We see some bloody footprints on the train tracks; A girl has some blood on her bare heels while walking; We see blood spray when the monsters are shot in the head; We see several mummified bodies dead and decaying on a crashed train car; We see a mummified dead body briefly on a table when a person pulls back a curtain; We see a girl with scarred, bubbly skin on their face. We then see a man with reddish, bloodshot eyes and burning scarred skin on his exposed shoulder; A monster tears at a man who is tied to a wooden post and screaming. We then see the water turn red beneath him as a person hides underwater; A man is hurt by the monster and we see blood on the floor as they drag their body across it; A person hits a monster in the head with a pipe and we see blood splatter onto their face and more when they pull out the pipe (which is now covered in monster blood). We also see the monster lying in a pool of its own blood; A person shoots a monster in the head with a pistol with some bloody results.
Violence: Some Semi-SPOILERS ahead… Monsters attack a town of people and slash at them, throwing them across the street and into things. People hide and cower in fear as it walks outside a bar. A person’s phone goes off and it jumps through the window, attacking them. It then tosses and slashes at people as it tears through the store; Some cars crash into each other as monsters run through the street of a town; A bus drives head-on toward Evelyn’s car and we see a monster’s leg moving out of the windshield of the bus; A police officer shoots at a monster as it leaps at him; A child gets their leg caught in a bear trap and he screams in pain; Evelyn shoots a monster, killing it; A person contemplates shooting some people with a rifle when they enter his territory; A girl finds dead, mummified bodies on a train car; A girl shoots a monster but can’t reload the gun as it approaches her. A man then shoots it in the head, killing it; We see the empty shoes of victims littering a train station floor; A person shoots an oxygen tank, causing it to explode in flames on a monster; A person surprises another person by tying a rope around their neck that is attached to glass bottles and other jangly things, so that if they move they’ll be heard by the monsters. They then threaten to take one of the Abbott children with them; A man pins another man to a wooden post and stabs him in the leg so he screams, attracting the monster right to him. We then see it slashing at the man as he screams (and the water turns red below). A man struggles underwater to get a rope off his neck; Monsters then attack people on a dock and people on a boat; A monster runs through a town as people run in terror and it slashes a bunch of them, throwing them around; A monster jumps on a car and slashes through the roof; A man’s leg is suddenly grabbed by a monster and then he’s stabbed in the back with another leg as he’s dragged away and killed (not seen); A man’s leg is wounded by the monster and he crawls across the floor; A monster is hit in the head with a pole and killed; A young boy accidentally locks himself in an airtight container and struggles to breathe; A monster tears through a metal door and tries to get the people inside. It then digs into a person’s leg, cutting it as they scream (very quick, we don’t see any blood or gore); A person shoots a monster in the head with a pistol with some bloody results.