July 8, 2021

After months of COVID-19-induced delays, John Krasinski’s sequel to his critically acclaimed 2018 horror flick, A Quiet Place, was finally released in theaters this June.

Picking up where A Quiet Place left off, Part II follows Evelyn Abbott (Emily Blunt) as she matures into her late husband’s (Krasinski) role as the protective head of their family. Navigating her son, Marcus (Noah Jupe), deaf daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds), and infant through a harrowing post-apocalyptic landscape where blind aliens hunt through noise, she struggles to keep the family alive and together.

While a horror film on the surface, ˆA Quiet Place Part II goes far beyond the trivial stack of jump scares or campy gore. Underneath the macabre, Part II is a coming-of-age story. While Evelyn toils to keep her family together and guides them to safety, it is ultimately Regan and Marcus who move the story and spark the subsequent events.

Left to the whims of their cautious mother, the Abbott family would have been stuck in shelter for another dozen sequels. After triangulating the origins of a radio transmission to a nearby island, Regan decides to sneak out of their hideout and journey to the source in hopes of finishing what her father started in the first film.

Undeterred by neither her small stature nor her hearing disability, Regan fearlessly faces the giant alien predators. Visibly matured through her father, Lee, Regan evokes the best of his character — selflessness and personal responsibility — as it guides her decisions. “It’s what [Lee] would have done,” she says, justifying her decision to leave the family, risking her life in hopes of securing their safety.

Undertaking responsibility is at the heart of the film. Each character has faced immeasurable loss and peril, yet they muster the fortitude to continue fighting. In an era in which superhero films have saturated cinemas, there is a great respite in witnessing acts of heroism from ordinary people.

And Regan isn’t just ordinary in the sense that she isn’t some costumed and caped comic book sketch. She’s deaf, unable to hear anything, in a world where a pin drop could be the difference between life and death. And yet, despite her disabilities, she refuses to make herself a victim or to blame anyone for the bleak unfairness and cruelty of life. Instead, she puts herself in greater danger, unwilling to rest and remain prey as she longs to take up her father’s place and to continue his fight.

The first film’s pro-life tinges also carry through to the sequel. Despite the bevy of risks and the impracticalities, the family devises a sound-muffling contraption with which they continue carefully raising their newborn and cry-prone baby. Evelyn goes to extreme lengths, unwilling to condemn the inchoate life for convenience’s sake, exuding the film’s key tenets of life and family.

Its moral underpinnings aside, the directing from Krasinski is brilliant and is what keeps the movie engaging. Everything you enjoyed about the first film, albeit no longer a novelty, is reprised in Part II. The tension is sustained throughout the film’s well-paced hour and 37-minute run time. It grips you as it flows through the film. Especially in scenes shot from Regan’s perspective: The camera jitters as alien monsters zip across the background with the audio cut, emanating a deafening silence reminiscent of such great cinematic horror scenes as the pitch-black darkness of the basement in Silence of the Lambs or Krasinski’s favorite: the slow, haunting approach of the shark in Jaws.

In an era of homogenous and mundane cinema, a fresh perspective on a stale genre is always welcome. A Quiet Place Part II is an engaging and well-written thriller, tastefully seasoned with subtle themes of growing up, familial values, and moral responsibility.

Originally Published at The Washington Examiner