Safe to return to the theater, or is it?
Hordes of preditory creatures are a welcome replacement to pandemic isolation.
June 10, 2021
Recently, we stepped into a movie house for the first time in over a year to watch A Quiet Place II. I had seen the first film, A Quiet Place, at the cinema in 2019. The sequel had been scheduled for box office release in the Spring of 2020. The director of both movies, John Krasinski, who stars in the film, was adamant that the sequel not be released to streaming during the pandemic but wait until cinema opened again.
Krasinski introduced the film thanking the audience for coming out to the theater to see it. This is becoming more common as Hollywood continues crafting motion pictures for the cinema screen. How we watch movies has been changing, even before the pandemic closed theaters. With streaming options we can watch the latest movies on our tablets, smart TVs, computers and even our phones. For most filmmakers, there is still nothing like experiencing a movie on that big, silver screen.
With only a handful of exceptions, Hollywood sequels have been notorious failures, rarely measuring up to the first feature. I had a feeling this might not be the case with A Quiet Place II. I was right.
As in the first film, a horde of horrifying predatory creatures from outer space have fallen to earth and are attacking earth's population. Nothing unique about that. It's been done countless times in science fiction films, though rarely this effectively. And I'm not talking about the creatures, who are blind. (They can't see a thing, but they hear EVERYTHING.)
We met the Abbott family in the first film, and before we could say "watch out" we came to know and care deeply about them. The truthful portrayal of this family is the key to this film's tension. Perhaps the fact that Krasinski and his real-life wife, Emily Blunt, play the parents is what adds such authenticity to their relationship on film.
The children are played by sixteen-year-old Noah Jupe as their son, Marcus, and eighteen-year-old Millicent Simmonds as their deaf daughter, Regan. Together, the family must do everything noiselessly to avoid attracting the creatures.
Krasinski insisted the role of Regan be played by a deaf actress. Simmonds taught Jupe, Blunt, and Krasinski American Sign Language for their roles. Simmonds said she now thinks about the possibility of playing a deaf superhero.
Before A Quiet Place, Simmonds had only acted in one feature film. She is incredible. Jupe and Simmonds both do so well in their roles as brother and sister, working to survive by doing everything quietly, you won't even notice the moment you begin to love them.
The story originally created by Scott Beck and Bryan Woods isn't just compelling, it's plausible because the film is not about the creatures, it is about the Abbotts. It's about us. Yes, the film has plenty of jump scares and truly horrifying moments. And they are damned effective precisely because you are inside the story of these people, their relationships to one another, their precarious existence, and their brave, constantly vigilant fight to make it together.
The new film A Quiet Place II starts with a flashback of the family watching their son's baseball game. Midway through the game, spectators watch as a flaming object slowly falls from the sky. The first film ended 474 days after the arrival of the preditors. and the family must carry on after the loss of Lee and their post apocalyptic home.
If you haven't seen A Quiet Place, stream it now, on as large a screen as you can find. Then go see A Quiet Place II before it leaves the cinema. Let yourself feel the full impact as the filmmakers intended. Walking out into the sunlight after the movie was over, I remembered why going to the movies is so special.