2 out of 5
Directed by: John Krasinski
As the lesser sequel to a good-not-great horror thriller, I have to acknowledge that lesser-than status with a lesser-than rating. Meanwhile, as I pondered over the film’s fumbles, I wondered whether or not A Quiet Place Part II would seem like a better movie without the comparison; would I have been more accepting of its flaws if it was my first introduction to feedback-sensitive creatures and the Abbott family that fights them? Unfortunately, I lean towards ‘no’: the first movie succeeded when it was quieter, and more character-focused, with the action stuff ranging between bland and a little stupid. With AQP 2, writer / director John Krasinski followed the traditional sequel method of bigger and louder, which means focusing more on the action stuff… upping the exposure to the same blandness and stupidity. More “why would you do that?” moments occur, and the more we see the creatures on screen, the less sense they make, and the more apparent are the discrepancies in the rules regarding what sounds seem to trigger them. The moments that stand out are those that mirror what worked before: tension-packed sections of creeping around; chaos when the terror is out of sight. But with the curtain pulled back already, there’s no need to keep things out of sight, and though Krasinski is absolutely skilled at getting things done on a reasonable budget, there’s zero showmanship to it, save the aforementioned moments which required restraint: actual interaction between the creatures and humans are kept to a minimum, such that as soon as someone walks onto a set and you see some kind of divider, you can bet our monster and our protagonist will be on either side of that. It’s akin to seeing open space with clear cover in video games – you know there’s a battle coming; there’s no surprise.
The telegraphing in the script is again pretty in your face, and I might be bias in that one such “I’m going to mention this so that I can direct the plot thataway” setups involves a group of gone-feral locals, led by a completely un-utilized Scoot McNairy. We’re 400+ days into the apocalypse, yes, and so a bit over a year – is that enough time for some clan of nutzos to get together and grow scraggly beards and teach their kids to kill? I mean, maybe it totally is, and maybe there are some real world examples of that, but I’m always skeptical of timelines when humankind jumps from being our regular ol’ bastards to, like, Mad Max. And here – in the non-world John has built, where traveling between destinations looks like it takes 5 minutes on screen but apparently took 2 days, and no real motivation is provided for the Abbott family to proceed on their journey out from the part-1 home in the first place – I’m especially unconvinced.
So, again: no. I don’t think A Quiet Place Part II would get a bump in quality in my opinion had it existed without its previous flick. This is, more rightly, very standard commercial horror, rendered a wee bit dumber and less tolerable by having a prestige gloss atop.