John Krasinski

A Quiet Place: Part Two

04/05/21

Cineworld

A Quiet Place was, in many ways, an extraordinary film. The levels of tension it generated led to a new phenomenon in multiplexes across the world – audiences actually being afraid to munch their popcorn or slurp their soft drinks too loudly, for fear of attracting those audio-activated monsters to their auditorium. The main question in my mind when a second instalment was mooted was simply this: can they possibly hope to pull off the trick for a second time? Well, to a large degree, they have, and this despite the fact that (spoiler alert!) a major character was killed off at the end of the first movie.

Part Two opens with a flashback to Day One of the alien invasion, as Lee Abbott (writer/director/actor John Krasinski) wanders to a baseball game in his hometown, where his son, Marcus (Noah Jupe), is just about to step up to the plate. Then there’s some commotion in the skies above them and, before you can yell, ‘Scarper!” those nasty reptiles arrive on the scene and start killing people. All hell breaks loose and the focus moves from Lee to his daughter, Regan (Millicent Simmonds). We see much of the ensuing carnage through her viewpoint. Long sequences are enacted in total silence – Regan is hearing impaired – and with brilliant use of this device, the resulting action is a masterclass of impeccable timing and effective jump-scares.

Then we cut back to where we left off in Part One. Evelyn (Emily Blunt) and her three children – one of them a newborn baby – are forced to wander off the silent path they’ve so painstakingly built to go in search of other survivors. Eventually they find one in the shape of Emmett (Cillian Murphy), a former friend of Lee’s, a man who is himself mourning the death of his wife and children. Can Evelyn persuade to forget his misery long enough to help her? And what’s the point if life is going to be the miserable existence that they’re all toiling through?

Well, the thing is, Regan has this cunning plan, one she’s convinced can give humans a competitive edge over the creatures that have invaded their planet. But making it work isn’t going to be easy…

Once again, the AQP team manage to raise the suspense to almost unbearable levels and at times I find myself holding my breath as the next nail-biting sequence unfolds. Okay, so this time out, there are a few implausibilities in the mix. In quieter moments, I find myself asking questions like, ‘Do these guys ever get to eat anything?’ Or, ‘How can Evelyn generate enough milk for that baby if she’s not getting any nutrition?’ and ‘How come the aliens only ever (okay, usually) arrive one at a time?’

And… while I’m being picky, Krasinski does pitch us a few too many cross-cut sequences where what’s happening in one scene mirrors the action in another one happening miles away. The first time you see it, it’s really impressive, but Part 2 is a little over-reliant on this conceit. And… if I’m really honest, the central message about the children needing to measure up to their fearless father is hammered home a little too forcefully for comfort.

But look, here’s the bottom line. As an immersive cinematic experience, A Quiet Place: Part Two does deliver on its main mission to thoroughly terrorise viewers – and that’s this series’ raison d’etre, surely? Emily Mortimer’s recent announcement that AQP is going to be a trilogy makes me sigh a little. Hardly anyone ever manages a successful hat trick, but of course, that’s all somewhere in the future. We’ll see.

For now, why not pop along to your socially distanced cinema and raise your stress levels even more than they already are? Come on, you know you want to.

4 stars

Philip Caveney

A Quiet Place

09/04/18

It’s hard in this day and age to come up with a completely original idea for a film, but writer/director John Krasinski has certainly engineered a refreshing twist on a much-used idea with A Quiet Place.

The action takes place in an alternative America, one that has been overrun – not by zombies, or a raging epidemic – but by predatory alien creatures. And yes, I’ll grant you, this still doesn’t sound like something you haven’t already seen many times before. The creatures are never named and we are given no information about where they came from or how they rose to power. This is entirely deliberate and I love the fact that the filmmakers judge us capable of joining the dots on this. The aliens are completely blind and apparently have no sense of smell, but what they do have is highly developed hearing. Which means that, if you’re hoping to stay alive in this world, everything must be done in absolute silence. And I mean everything.

In the film’s powerful opening, we meet the Abbott family, Evelyn (Emily Blunt), her husband, Lee (Krasinski), and their three children, one of whom, Regan (Millicent Simmonds), is completely deaf and therefore has even more worries than the others, since she isn’t always aware when she’s actually making a noise. The family have ventured out of their remote house in search of medical supplies. We learn very quickly how complex this new world is. The family go everywhere barefoot, walking along trails of pre-laid sand, because even the sound of a breaking twig can spell doom for them. They have developed their own sign-language, their own way of doing ordinary household duties. And, as they quickly learn to their cost, battery-powered toys are not a good thing to pick up on their travels.

From this point, the film moves on in time. Evelyn is now pregnant. And of course, giving birth to a child really isn’t the quietest process in the world…

What we’re watching here, is, to all intents and purposes, a silent movie – and, as the film leaps nimbly from one incredibly tense sequence to the next,  it’s this very quality that allows Krasinki to wrack the tension up to almost unbearable levels. And that’s what feels so fresh about this idea, so effective. This, by the way,  is definitely a film to be watched with an audience. It won’t be anything like as suspenseful when you’re sitting at home, with the option of breaking for a coffee whenever things become a bit too stressful. In a cinema, there’s a palpable tension as the audience suffers in collective silence along with the Abbots – particularly with Evelyn, who goes through several levels of personal hell in this.

A word of warning. Don’t be the person gleefully chomping your way through a big tub of popcorn as the drama unfolds – not unless you want to be the most hated person in the cinema. My phone, which was switched to ‘vibrate only,’ went off in the middle of this and managed to sound to my startled ears like an express train thundering through an abandoned station.

A Quiet Place is, in many ways, a small film – a tiny cast, a couple of locations and a relatively short running time, which seems to positively sprint by – but it leaves a powerful impression. Hear that noise as you leave the cinema? It’s the sound of the entire audience letting out a breath of relief.

This is highly recommended viewing – and it’s quietly feminist too – though possibly not the ideal film to watch if you happen to be pregnant.

Just saying.

4.6 stars

Philip Caveney