After over a year-long break from movie theaters, I went to see “A Quiet Place Part II,” thoroughly expecting my first foray back into the theater to be an enjoyable experience. Unfortunately, “A Quiet Place Part II” disappointed me.
To be fair, I had high expectations. The first film was thrilling (even to someone like me who usually can’t handle scary movies and jump scares). Writer and director John Krasinski (“The Office”) had a lot of interesting reasons to make a sequel, and I wanted more than anything to have my first back-in-the-theaters film blow my mind.
But “A Quiet Place Part II” just seemed to be missing something — and I’m pretty sure that missing piece was John Krasinski’s character, Lee. The film opened with a flashback from before the events of the first film, which captured my attention quickly. Having seen the first film and knowing all too well the importance of sound and silence, I was hyper-aware of every single noise I heard in the film: Lee’s footsteps, the rustling of a plastic bag, the hum of the news on a television, the sounds of an idyllic kids’ baseball game. I was enthralled by this scene that seemed to be the antithesis of “A Quiet Place”’s dark, muted tones and nearly complete silence. Too quickly, though, the film reverted back to where the end of the first film left off, with Lee’s family trekking through the woods in silence and trying to survive the attacks of the monsters (or aliens?) that were attracted to sound.
In many ways, this film was too similar to the first, making it feel like an unnecessary addition or extension of a film that ended on a pretty good note. On top of that, the characters were too unbelievable, making it easy to fall out of the film’s world. Evelyn (Emily Blunt, “Mary Poppins Returns”) is still a caring mother in an awful situation, trying to help her kids in the best way she can. However, she makes decisions that are completely out of character for a mother putting her children first. Her eldest son, Marcus (Noah Jupe, “Wonder”) is as timid as he was in the first film, but seemed to make worse decisions than he had in “A Quiet Place,” including leaving his baby sibling alone in order to explore his new “home.” Regan (Millicent Simmonds, “Wonderstruck”) set out on her own to try to save her family (although it’s not made entirely clear how she planned to do that). Simmonds’s performance, enhanced by her communication through sign language, is moving, just as it was in the original film, but her character’s flawed decision-making made it difficult to pay attention to anything else.
Finally, the new addition to the “Quiet Place” cast, Emmett (Cillian Murphy, “Inception”) is perhaps the most confusing part of the film. Presumably present to fill John Krasinski’s character’s shoes, Emmett tries to help the struggling family survive. But his character’s inconsistencies are too difficult to ignore; he starts out willing to sacrifice the family for his own benefit and safety and ends up being Regan’s greatest ally. The shift in character comes too quickly and thus feels unrealistic and unbelievable. Murphy’s performance as Emmet is good — commendable, even — but the role was written in a way that made it difficult for the audience to garner any sympathy for him or see him as anything more than a poor man’s substitute for Krasinski’s heartfelt performance as Lee.
If you enjoy the suspense and jump scares that a film like “A Quiet Place” offers, you’ll probably enjoy the sequel while watching it. But the second the credits start rolling and you start actually thinking about what you just watched, it all falls to pieces.
In all honesty, this film didn’t need to be made. Perhaps the anticipation that the film’s various release dates created made people’s expectations even higher, ensuring that any version of “A Quiet Place Part II” would fall flat, but I can’t help but think that with the way the first film ended, any attempt to continue the storyline and expand the universe would end on a sour note.
Daily Arts Writer Sabriya Imami can be reached at email@example.com.