It's been a long road to theaters for A Quiet Place Part II, the hotly anticipated sequel to star/director John Krasinski's breakout horror thriller. In a cruel twist of irony, a film about a world forced into silence by sonically sensitive beasts was itself delayed when the real world fell silent, leaving theaters abandoned.
The original starred Krasinski and Emily Blunt as the survivalist Abbott family, holed up in the countryside in near-complete silence, lest they be torn apart by fierce creatures with a hunger for flesh. The high-concept plot offered up an ideal collective experience for theatergoers, and the film's Twilight Zone-esque plot led it to be the sleeper hit of 2018.
Now, a year after it was scheduled for release, Krasinski is back behind the camera to expand the tale of the newly reduced Abbotts, forced out of isolation with a new baby in tow. So far, the critical response has been positive, with praise all around for the performances and craftsmanship but a bit of a divide on whether Krasinski beings anything fresh in the second outing.
Time Out’s own Michael Gingold, in a 4-star review (out of 5), declares the film a white-knuckle expansion that manages to being genuine surprise from a setup steeped in the original hit’s familiarity. "Whenever it seems to be heading into familiar genre territory, a curveball is delivered, as he expands the movie’s world without losing its gnawing sense of claustrophobia," he writes.
Film School Rejects’ Rob Hunter praises director John Krasinski’s skill behind the camera, declaring the sequel "an intense entertaining thrill ride that will have you jumping in your seat as it surpasses the original at nearly every turn."
Meagan Navarro of trusted horror site Bloody Disgusting finds much to like in the continuation, including the addition of Cillian Murphy. But the film’s real star is the young Millicent Simmonds as teenage survivor Regan."Simmonds is more than up to the task of carrying the load, both emotionally and physically," she writes. "Her arc here is incredible, offering both heartfelt moments of heartbreak and soaring moments of triumph. She also handles action sequences with absolute ease, of which there are many."
The AP’s Lindsey Bahr says the film finds fresh scares and excels as a meditation on parenting and family. And like the first film, it’s tailor-made as a theatrical experience best enjoyed with bated breath in an auditorium… which fans can finally do. "It might sound cliché, but it’s hard to imagine seeing it anywhere but on the big screen," she writes.
Den of Geek’s Don Kaye, meanwhile, praises the film’s performances and craftsmanship, but yawns it off as an "often gripping time-filler instead of a genuine expansion of the tale set-up by the first film."
Writing for Forbes, Scott Mendelson dings the movie for falling into convention, kicking off his review with a curt, "It’s a good thing that John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place part II is so damn well made because it’s the very definition of a gratuitous sequel."
Many critics found parallels between Krasinski's film and the Alien series, positing Emily Blunt’s shotgun-toting matriarch as the series' own Ellen Ripley. But that’s not always a positive thing: Clarisse Loughrey of The Independent says the "film takes a James Cameron’s Aliens route of delivering a sequel," effectively ratcheting up the spectacle but ultimately sacrificing the original’s claustrophobic terror for larger-scale thrills.
A.A. Dowd of the AV Club heralds the intense prologue, but shifts to tepid but positive about the rest of the film, writing, "A Quiet Place Part II is finely prepared leftovers, still tasty but with a faint staleness cutting into the flavor."
But maybe leftovers are the kind of comfort audiences need. The Houston Chronicle’s Cary Darling, in a positive review, says the film’s redundancy might be a feature, not a bug. "What better way to get back into the movie-going groove than with something new yet familiar?" he writes.
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