Editor’s note: The views and opinions expressed in this review are solely those of Marlon Wallace and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of WBOC.
Three years ago, in my review for the first film, I said that it’s a monster movie and a really good thrill ride. This sequel is a perfect continuation of that thrill ride. It still manages to be scary and as engaging as the previous flick. Writer-director John Krasinski crafts some powerful set-pieces, which again show him to be a good, if not great filmmaker. Even though this film is produced by Michael Bay and even though Krasinski starred in a Michael Bay film, thankfully Krasinski doesn’t mimic much of any of Bay’s ticks. Bay’s films are typically loud and frenetic. Krasinski is instead calm and steady. His title is actually appropriate. Krasinski’s shots are measured. His pacing isn’t slow, but it’s not choppy as a Michael Bay action flick is. Krasinski is making a horror film for the most part. It’d be curious to see what a Krasinski action film would be, but I like his instincts here.
Emily Blunt (Mary Poppins Returns and Sicario) stars as Evelyn Abbott, a wife and mother living somewhere on the East Coast, possibly in a small town in New York. We pick up with her immediately after the events of the previous film. In case one has forgotten, she’s dealing with the fact that her youngest child and her husband were both killed by blind alien creatures that kill anybody that makes a loud sound. She recently had a baby who she tries to keep from making noise. She and her other two children leave the farmhouse where they had been staying. They try to find refuge somewhere else, but it doesn’t seem as if she’s heading anywhere specific. She simply leads her children down abandoned train tracks.
Millicent Simmonds (A Quiet Place and Wonderstruck) co-stars as Regan Abbott, the eldest child of Evelyn. She’s deaf. She has a cochlear implant but she mostly communicates with American Sign Language or ASL. She can read lips though. She realized that her hearing aid can emit a noise or signal that specifically repels the creatures. She comes up with a plan to connect her hearing aid to a radio as a way of creating a protective shield for her family. She also decides to go to a radio station and broadcast that signal in order to repel more creatures. However, the trek to the closest radio station is obviously treacherous.
Noah Jupe (Ford v Ferrari and Honey Boy) also co-stars as Marcus Abbott, the little brother to Regan. He likes to play softball but what we learn is that of all of them, he’s probably the most afraid. Jupe gives the best performance I’ve seen from anyone in terms of conveying absolute fear and sheer terror. The film has a minor arc for him that involves him trying to overcome his fear and learn how to deal with this new reality they have, and perhaps learn to be a little bit tougher.
It’s great though that Krasinski basically puts Marcus and most especially Regan more in the forefront. Half of the film sees Regan leading the narrative. She essentially was the hero of the first film, but she really becomes the hero of this film or at least more of the protagonist. By the end of this film, I was reminded of Netflix’s Stranger Things (2016), not simply because the creature in this film is somewhat similar to the creature in that TV series, but also because of how we’re more in the perspective of the children or teenagers here.
Cillian Murphy (Batman Begins and 28 Days Later) plays Emmett, a neighbor who lived in the same town as Evelyn and her family. It seems as though he lost his entire family. Many were killed in the initial attack but more of his love ones died in the intervening year. He’s now by himself and he believes that whatever people are left alive aren’t worth fighting for. His minor arc here is to snap him out of that concept. Murphy gives a great performance too, but his character might have been a bit underdeveloped.
Even though it’s stated that it’s Day 474 since the creatures first arrived and started killing people, one criticism is that the film never explains or indicates where the creatures originated or why the creatures would attack a small town like the one where Evelyn lives. If these creatures are attracted to sound and noise, it seems as if they would be more attracted to large cities where there’s constantly noise. When the film states that it’s going to depict Day 1, I assume that we would get more of an origin story for the creatures, which I assume are aliens, but that’s never confirmed. Krasinski resists doing an origin story for these creatures. He maintains this film as a survival flick from people who don’t know what the broader picture is. Krasinski does do a bit more world-building here, providing a glimpse at a possible bigger picture. One criticism with the previous film is that there is no mention of the government response or military response. Krasinski provides a reference to that here, but again, it’s a brief reference.
Regardless, this film is a great follow-up to Krasinski’s hit 2018 film. Depending on how the rest of the year goes, it could stand as the best horror film of 2021.
Rated PG-13 for terror, violence and bloody/disturbing images.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 37 mins.