A Quiet Place Part II

Anyone seeking to make a horror sequel would do well to study writer/ director John Krasinski's A Quiet Place Part II. A magnificent expansion of the established characters and story, this film wastes nary a second, framing the narrative with a bit of new backstory before picking up immediately after the events of the 2018 original and taking us in bold, terrifying new directions.

It's Day 474 since the aliens arrived and began their wildly proficient killing spree. Few humans—and little humanity—remain, but the tightly knit, recently truncated Abbott family is determined to endure. They venture out into a bleak world and, despite some initial hostility and painful setbacks, soon discover that they might hold the key not only to survival but to stopping the deadly invaders. A new quest begins, transferring much of the weight of the drama onto the able shoulders of daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds), who embodies her father's smarts and determination as she faces unknown perils. It becomes a parable of growing up, of finding the strength to be independent, and maybe even taking the lead. Perhaps unavoidably, the plot comes to embrace a few post-apocalyptic tropes, but they are executed with the abundant panache of a gifted filmmaker.


Part II employs a combination of film and digital capture, shot this time around by director of photography Polly Morgan with somewhat uneven results. Upscaled here to 4K, shadow detail is generally strong, although the 2.39:1 image can be grainy and/or noisy in certain scenes, with a (perhaps intentionally) shallow depth of field in some shots. The textures of the real locations and painstakingly designed sets are appreciably superior on the Ultra HD disc to those on the included regular HD Blu-ray. Dolby Vision HDR provides a welcome enhancement throughout in the glow of candles or of electric lights on a gazebo at dawn, while daytime exteriors pack a nice punch of sunshine. The aliens are elaborately conceived digital creations, though mismatched lighting occasionally spoils the effect, and a simulated blood puddle after one encounter is so hinky it's a real head- scratcher as to how it was left in.


This being a sequel, we are aware from the outset that sound has lethal consequences when the enemy hunts via hypersensitive hearing. The Dolby Atmos soundtrack can afford to be quite sparse at times, as the slightest cue can set us on edge, and the sudden burst of a car horn can be a massive jolt. The rapid shifts from quietude to the anything-can- happen audio of an alien attack will surely heighten the pulse of the most even-tempered viewer. In a more stylized flourish, there are moments of silence to give us a deaf character's unique perspective, or conspicuously limited sonics to further immerse us in the reality this world. Both AQP I and II—also now available in a handy Blu-ray two-pack—celebrate the power of sound in horror cinema.


No extras are supplied on the Ultra HD disc, though a handful of featurettes are located on the regular HD Blu-ray. All under ten minutes each, they're pretty standard, the best being a "director's diary" that shares solid production information plus genuine insight into Krasinski's creative process and undeniable passion for his craft. A code for Paramount's single-provider digital copy with the same supplements is here as well.


Unlike the would-be scarers of yore with a roman numeral following the title, A Quiet Place Part II is no soul-less, quick-buck follow-up. It's an often-intimate, truly inspired drama with innovation to spare...and monsters, too. The hints at a possible Part III are merely further proof of what a rich, nuanced tale these folks are spinning.

STUDIO: Paramount, 2020
HDR FORMAT: Dolby Vision, HDR10
AUDIO FORMAT: Dolby Atmos with TrueHD 7.1 core
LENGTH: 97 mins.
DIRECTOR: John Krasinski
STARRING: Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Cillian Murphy, Noah Jupe, Djimon Hounsou, John Krasinski