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  • Wendy Shreve

TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING: A QUIET PLACE II


John Krasinski has an ear and an eye for directing. A Quiet Place II (2021) opens with an eerie silence. Leaves blow along and across an empty street, empty sidewalk. Pan to a traffic light, swinging in the swelling breeze: the signal changes from green to yellow to red as a lone man walks along with purpose. That man, Lee Abbott (Krasinski), appears to be on a mission.


This set-up leading to events of Day 1--for those who've seen the original enough said, for those who haven't, Lee's about to experience the worst day of his life--has a craftsman's touch. Krasinski's vision, i.e. plot then moves ahead to Day 474. An adjacent barn burns near the house as the remaining family members emerge from their home on a journey. Here, a widow assumes a new mission, to find other survivors. To divulge more would undermine the unexpected.


Director Krasinski has a brilliant cast at his disposal: his wife, Emily Blunt as Evelyn; Millicent Simmonds as Regan; Noah Jupe as Marcus, Cillian Murphy as Emmett, and in a smaller role,. Djimon Hounsou as an unknown man encountered later in the movie. Hounsou's talent, however, is wasted here.


Emily Blunt continues to carry her weight in this sequel, but Simmonds, Jupe and Murphy have the spotlight. The children stand tall. Furthermore, Murphy, whose performances have often been overlooked because he makes them look effortless, provides seething restraint.


The crux: head-writer has inventive ideas yet he doesn't know when to quit, at least for A Quiet Place. A sequel can be a daunting prospect after the success of its predecessor. However, box-office success often demands continuation.


Story-wise, A Quiet Place II undermines the premise of the first film by its existence and its details, e.g. the ending in A Quiet Place is more than satisfying. At times in the original, the viewer may find oneself biting his/her lip with disbelief. The creatures--now omnipresent with too many close-ups [one reminded me of a cross between an alien from Signs (2002) and a Dilophosaurus in Jurassic Park (1993)]--have lost their bite.


As a stand-alone movie, this follow-up has its moments, some of which involve startling scares. And coupled with the mesmerizing silence, the music, composed by Marco Beltrami, also underscores the anticipation.


Director/Writer Krasinski admitted, in a recent interview, he had much to learn about thrillers (horror in particular). He studied Hitchcock's technique, principally. And like the master of suspense, Krasinski uses sound to help drive the film's progression. Scenes in this movie often evolve slowly (albeit sometimes too slowly) but with purpose. Now, it's time for the actor/director to pursue other projects to demonstrate his abilities.


A Quiet Place II entertains and provides a movie-making lesson on how to handle a thriller. It may not parallel the original but what a way to launch a return to movie theaters. Let me emphasize, viewers, see this feature in a cinema if you can. You'll feel the difference.


PG-13 for imperiled children (baby), popcorn munching frights and suspense, and violence.


Opens in theaters May 28, 2021. English/American Sign Language with subtitles.



Earlier reviews are also available on https://www.rottentomatoes.com/critic/wendy-shreve/movies


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