Post lockdown, my trips to the multiplex are gathering pace with the appetite of a recovering addict suddenly let loose. Oddly, it seems to have been sequels week between my earlier jaunt to see Spiral, the latest Saw film and now this.
The Quiet Place 2 is the first of the films held back from screens for over a year, not to have been released to premium streaming services that I’ve gone to see. I first saw the trailer in the early part of 2020, when it was set for a spring release and shortly before the pandemic lockdown literally made the world a quiet place.
The Quiet Place was kind of a sleeper hit, I guess. I saw it on April 9, 2018 (yes, I keep records) and I reviewed it here. My feeling (for those of you who can’t be bothered looking back) was summed up in the last line; “Overall, completely satisfying and unlike any film we’ve seen before. I’ll go on record though and say that the worst thing that could happen, in my opinion, is for this concept to become a franchise. We don’t need a sequel, though I fully expect one. “
That notion might seem a little bit harsh, but the concept of having to keep totally silent, or you’ll be eaten although novel and original, is one that can’t be revisited too often – it’ll fall flat and wear thing very quickly, especially given the volume that a lot of cinema goers eat at. Then, there are the monsters themselves. We don’t actually get a really good look at them. The editing is rapid, so you know what you’re looking at, more-or-less but they don’t get too familiar a sight. That’s how you keep this kind of monster frightening. There’s very little that’s more terrifying than something you can’t fully see, but you see enough of to know to keep well away from it. Then, another pitfall would be to explain where they came from and why they’re here. We don’t need that. The fact that they’re here is enough.
As the first film begins, we see there are very few people left. We follow a family of survivors, we aren’t actually told much about the monsters at all, except for seeing newspaper headlines explaining that they’re blind and they home in on sound. If they can’t hear you, you’re probably safe. If they do, you’re in for a swift and merciless end. I rewatched the original a couple of days before seeing this sequel and it really paid off. In fact, if I were to offer one piece of advice to anybody considering watching this, it’d be to make sure that you see the original film first. If you don’t, then you’re probably wasting money because no explanations are given.
Alarm bells rang, not only on the screen, but also in my head when the film began. We’re back to day one, and the arrival of whatever they are (we literally don’t even know what they’re called – except they’re a bit like four legged giant armoured spiders). There’s a strange smoke or vapour trail in the sky on a summer day of little league baseball which suddenly turns to carnage. As soon as this sequence is over, we’re back exactly where we left the family (or what remains of it) at the end of the previous film. Emily Blunt as the mother Evelyn Abbott stands poised, rifle in hand, resolute look on her face, knowing that the answer to their problems might lie in the discovery made by her deaf daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds – who really carries most of the film).
The problem with a solution is often how to apply it.
This is where the film really begins as the Abbott family split up with Regan going on her own quest to find a way of further weaponizing her solution with a more widespread effect, after Evelyn has taken the family in search of their closest neighbour and friend, a couple of days walk away, now that cars aren’t viable.
Although the film moves at a fair pace, the mid-section is very reminiscent of any episode of The Walking Dead, but then there’s not a great deal you can do in scenes of weary, grubby survivors in a post apocalypse wandering around stealthily, trying not to get eaten, I guess.
What immediately relieves the impending tedium is a dramatic sleight of hand, used very effectively though it’s deceptively simple. Action scenes involving Regan are intercut between her perspective with no sound at all to reflect her deafness, and a normal one with the sound turned up – in this case, neighbour Emmett (Cillian Murphy).
Again, despite being a constant threat, the monsters are largely kept to a glimpse here and there, we never see a long, lingering shot of the whole thing in the frame so we can get a really good look at it. They’re always on the move. In this way, it’s as clever and cunning a means of keeping up their menace as was used in Alien (1979). It’s at the third act that we see one more in broad daylight.
Adding to the menace of course is what has happened to society. Inevitably people have gone feral and are turning viciously on each other. In the case of this story, it took less than a year and a half for people to turn as predatory as the forces that threaten us. (Yep, sounds about right).
Essentially, this is a sequel that I originally thought was needless – but as it progressed, won me over. It’s, as the title suggests, literally part 2 of the ongoing story, picking everything up at the second the first part finished. In fact, despite the actors, particularly the younger cast members, having aged a couple of years – it’s all carried off so well, you’d think that the two movies were filmed back-to-back. (They weren’t. I checked.)
Don’t be surprised if they’re all back for another sequel to make it a trilogy, but that might be pushing it.
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