The premise of “A Quiet Place” (2018) was scary good — emphasis on scary. What if the world was invaded by alien creatures who can’t see but can hear? For humans, this would mean silence was safety and making any sounds risked death. The premise was so scary good the movie grossed $340 million worldwide.
Of course excellence of execution had something to do with that. Emily Blunt and John Krasinski were Evelyn and Lee Abbott, the parents of three young children — with a fourth on the way. Krasinski also helped with the script and directed. The fact that Blunt and Krasinski are married, with children of their own, surely played into how important family was in the film and the deeper emotional resonance the movie had. “A Quiet Place” was even more about family than it was about horror, since what made the horror truly horrible was how it threatened the family.
Box-office success on such a scale all but guarantees a sequel — but “A Quiet Place Part II” is also what the title indicates: not repetition but continuation. Almost every sequel cashes in. A few extend and elaborate. “Part II” is one of those.
The movie begins with a flashback to the invasion: Day 1. This does triple duty. It’s informative (ah, so that’s what it was like when the aliens arrived). It adds a lot of action (and noise), which makes all the more striking the contrast with the tension and quiet that follow. Finally, it brings back Krasinski for a few scenes. (Spoiler alert: Lee did not survive the earlier movie.)
Soon enough, “Part II” jumps ahead to Day 474, the day after the events that ended the first movie. Evelyn and her children are abandoning their farm. On the move, the nature of the threat they face stays the same. Silence remains essential, and the aliens (they look like oversize praying mantises who watched the “Alien” movies at an impressionable age) are very much out there. But it’s also different. The Abbotts are braving a wider, unfamiliar world. They’re now in far less control than they were during the preceding 473 days.
The flashback does quadruple duty, actually. It introduces a family friend, Emmett, who’s in the bleachers at the same Little League game the Abbotts are. He’s played by Cillian Murphy. By the time the Abbotts meet Emmett again he’s so hirsute and ravaged as to be barely recognizable. Murphy, the man with the most beautiful eyes in the movies, looks like a latter-day Harry Dean Stanton in “Paris, Texas.”
With its limited dialogue, and action restricted to the most extreme events, details take on an enormous weight. A 3-foot-thick ceiling. A jammed shotgun. A first-aid kit just out of reach (or is it?). A bear trap. A liquor bottle with enough vodka in it to be used as disinfectant. The utility of a working sprinkler system. The inutility of a convertible roof (they’re called “ragtops” for a reason, unfortunately).
Krasinski presents these and other such details with lucidity. His direction is so efficient and assured that the three or four rather ridiculous plot elements go unnoticed until well after the movie’s over. That’s how absorbing “Part II” can be.
The credit also goes to the actors. Blunt is fine, as are Murphy and Noah Jupe, as Marcus Abbott. But the beating heart of the movie is the daughter, Regan. Regan is deaf. This has an obvious relevance to the material, both thematic and practical. When we see things from Regan’s perspective, the soundtrack goes silent, and it’s almost as unnerving as the sight of an alien. But it also adds to the intensity of emotion. Millicent Simmonds, who is herself deaf, has a stern, strong, gunboat face. Looking at it, none can doubt the terrible things she has had to confront or the strength she shows in overcoming them. “Part II” ends in such a way as to cry out for “Part III.” More important, Simmonds shows an ability that cries out for a career well beyond that.
A QUIET PLACE PART II
Directed by John Krasinski. Written by Krasinski; based on characters created by Bryan Woods and Scott Beck. Starring Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Cillian Murphy, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe. At Boston theaters, Kendall Square, suburbs. 97 minutes. PG-13
Mark Feeney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.