Review: A Quiet Place Part II continues the alien invasion story

A Quiet Place Part II (M, 98 mins)

4 stars

I love a great Hollywood love story. Bogart and Bacall. Hepburn and Tracy. Taylor and Burton.

There's a delightful modern pairing today in television-turned-film star John Krasinski married to delightful British actress Emily Blunt of The Devil Wears Prada fame.

They might not get the same TMZ airtime or gossip magazine column centimetres as the volatile romantic volleying of Brad and Gwyneth and Jennifer and Ben and Jen and Angelina, probably because they're just a quiet pair of working actors with wedding rings and kids.

Individually their careers have evolved and blossomed. Krasinski made a physical transformation from sweet sitcom character actor to a believably jacked special forces operative in 13 Hours and recently the latest Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan in three seasons of the Amazon series.

No stranger to offering her own interpretation of a much-loved character herself, Emily Blunt took on the role of Mary Poppins in Disney's 2018 sequel, and made a similarly physical transformation her her action hero role in the 2014 Tom Cruise film Edge of Tomorrow.

A scene from A Quiet Place Part II. Picture: Paramount

A scene from A Quiet Place Part II. Picture: Paramount

The pair now have a franchise film of their own, something of a family business, with the success of their 2018 film now spawning a sequel, the first of many I'm sure.

In the first film we met a family uniquely skilled to survive an alien invasion thanks to their daughter's hearing impairment. Fluent in American Sign Language, Evelyn and Lee Abbott (Blunt and Krasinski) and their kids Regan (Millicent Simmonds), Marcus (Noah Jupe) and Beau (Cade Woodward) are able to silently communicate in the new brutal world where invading aliens have sensitive sound receptors.

This sequel opens just before the action of the first film starts, sharing the "invasion day" that introduced the sound-sensitive alien threat. Now, the whole family didn't make it through the first film and I won't spoil that here in case this is you want to jump on Netflix and catch up before you buy your tickets to the sequel, but this was a great way to bring that full cast back into the story.

In Part II, the remaining family follow a signal fire across the Appalachian countryside where they find old family friend Emmett (Cillian Murphy) and a refuge in an old factory.

But with daughter Regan having discovered the aliens have a weakness that she is uniquely positioned to exploit, she leaves this safe haven for a broadcasting station off the coast and the possibility of saving her family.

Once again, Krasinski does triple duty as performer, screenwriter and director.

His screenplay is merely serviceable, but he provides his characters good opportunities to rise to challenges and his actors really brilliant showcases for their range.

Like the first film, this one is full of silence, but that doesn't mean for a second that it isn't rich with statement and nuance. While the performances are universally strong, including cameos from big names like Scoot McNairy and Djimon Hounsou, this could be a career-making turn from Simmonds who gets as much screen-time as her on-screen parents.

These are aliens that can't smell your post-apocalyptic fear sweat, but they can hear you stub your toe or breathe too loud and they will come running to rip you apart, and so silence is important both to plot and to the gripping action.

There are a dozen well-executed jump scares and I fell for every one of them. Didn't matter that you can see them coming. The strength of Krasinski's original film was its understatement, but here he tends to concentrate on placing his characters in a series of dangers just to fuel those jump scares.

The real star of the film is the soundscape, contributed to by a full sound team and composer Marco Beltrami. The film is strongest when switching perspectives from Regan to the hearing characters, silence to deafening sound.

The first film in the series was so fresh, standing out in that year's box office. This film isn't better or cleverer, it's just a continuation of the things we loved in the first film, which isn't bad at all.

The film was days away from opening in 2020 when COVID shut the world's cinemas, and the filmmakers find the world film market a different place upon its release. Fingers crossed it finds the audience to justify the third film it thoroughly sets itself up for.

This story Sequel is filled with effective jump scares first appeared on The Canberra Times.