Saturday 29 May 2021

A Quiet Place Part II (Movie Review)

Back in 2018, when moviegoers could still congregate in movie theaters without the fear of contracting something deadly, a certain horror film was busy taking the pre-Summer box office by storm. Unfortunately for those of us in Nigeria, where horror movies are usually relegated to the 9pm cinema dead zone, that movie never even got to see the light of day. So I had to wait an excruciatingly long three months for the film to land on digital platforms before I could see what the noise was about. And boy was it worth the wait, going on to become my favorite movie that year.

Flash forward to this weekend, and A Quiet Place Part II finally began its global rollout, just as movie theaters are beginning to show signs of recovery from the year-long lockdowns that have kept them under lock and key. And once again, the movie has proven to be worth the wait, delivering on every single promise made in the trailers that heralded its often delayed arrival. But how exactly does it measure up to the very high standards of the first film? That is the question that I'll be trying to answer in this review.

The film picks up right where the last one left off, with the remaining members of the Abbott family forced out of their home following the events of the first movie. It also pulls double duty as a prequel of sorts, showing what happened on Day 1 of the invasion that saw the world's population decimated by ferocious creatures that hunt by sound. That 10-minute opening sequence alone had enough highs and thrills to fill up an entire film, but I was just happy to see John Krasinki reprise his role as Lee Abbott.

The rest of the film finds the family seeking help and shelter from an old friend of Lee's named Emmett (Cillian Murphy), a man struggling to deal with his failure to keep his own family alive. But after the Abbott's deaf daughter, Regan (Millicent Simmonds), discovers that a looping radio broadcast was actually masking coordinates to its source, she decides to set off to find it with the hope of being able to broadcast the high-pitched frequency that would help them fight the creatures.

It should come as no surprise that A Quiet Place Part II was my most anticipated movie of 2020. But following the outbreak of the coronavirus, and the onset of lockdowns, the movie was delayed indefinitely, mere days before its scheduled global rollout. But my anticipation for the film never waned in the intervening one year, once again becoming my most anticipated movie for 2021. And now that I've finally gotten a chance to see it in all its glory, I'm pleased to say that it was everything I'd expected and more.

The movie excels in a way that many sequels fail to do. In a trend that finds more and more Hollywood franchises going bigger and bolder for their second outings, this one keeps its action grounded and tethered to the family drama at its core. It maintains a nearly identical premise with the first film, but shakes things up by having the family members split up on their own separate adventures.

And the film was once again bolstered by excellent performances across the board. Out of all the newcomers, Cillian Murphy proved to be the standout, with his character coming across as a man struggling to do the right thing despite being kicked down in the dirt. But the real heart of the movie was Millicent Simmonds, who once again gave Regan the same fieriness and fighting spirit that made her great in the first film.

The sound design of the movie also needs to be applauded. Not many films make you wary of eating your popcorn too loudly after all, an experience I'd missed out on with the first movie. There were many long stretches of uncomfortable silence, followed by jump scares that never felt cheap or overused. Likewise, the creature design and visual effects as a whole remain impressive to behold, never choosing to sacrifice effective scares for the sake of mere spectacle.

A Quiet Place Part II is the perfect sequel to an already near-perfect movie. It expands upon everything that made the first film so intriguing without feeling like a rehash or cash grab. That it manages to maintain the same level of dread, while using most of the same tools within its toolbox, is a testament to a story that was not only well conceived but well-executed too. It might not quite surpass the sheer thrills of the first film, but it is every bit its equal in my opinion.

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