After having its general release postponed by over a year due to the pandemic, A Quiet Place Part 2 finally opened over the Memorial Day weekend and now has begun streaming online. Written and directed by John Krasinski, the film features the original cast of Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, and Noah Jupe as the members of the Abbot family, as well as Cillian Murphy and Djimon Hounsou.
With the exception of a flashback sequence (where Krasinski briefly reprises his role as Lee Abbot) that gives us more insight into the personalities of the Abbots and their life in the bucolic town where they lived before the arrival of the “Death Angel” aliens, Part 2 picks up shortly after the end of the first film. It is implied that the two Death Angels that were seen approaching the farm at the end of the first film have been killed, but not before destroying the Abbot’s farm.
With their home in ruins, the remaining Abbots (Lee sacrificed himself in the first movie) decide to leave it and go in search of other survivors whose fire signals their daughter Regan (Simmonds) had seen. Eventually they run into an old family friend named Emmet (Murphy), living alone and mourning the death of his wife and child. Although moved by the Abbot’s new infant, Emmet tells Evelyn (Blunt) that he can’t help them and to go back their farm because there’s nothing for them there, and that the survivors left in the world are “not the kind of people worth saving.” However, while they are talking, the son Marcus (Jupe) catches a radio transmission of the continuous playing of a song called “Beyond the Sea.” Based on the research her father had done in the first movie trying to contact others through radio transmitters, Regan eventually deduces that it is a message from other survivors.
Regan (who is deaf) discovered in the first film that by amplifying the audio feedback from her cochlear implant hearing aid, the aliens (who are blind and hunt by sound) can be paralyzed and made easier to kill. Surmising that she can use the radio station to broadcast the feedback signal from her implant, thereby allowing others to use it to defeat the aliens, she heads out on her own in search of the radio station. When Evelyn finds Regan gone in the morning, she begs Emmet to go after her. When he finds her, he demands that she go “back home” with him. With their farm gone and the world still suffering in silence and fear from the aliens Regan sardonically signs, “What home!?” With some coaxing, Emmet agrees and together they head out on the dangerous journey to find the radio station “beyond the sea.”
A Sequel That was Worth the Wait
The 2018 film A Quiet Place was both a critical and commercial success in part because of the way Krasinski upended the standard horror film trope of a hapless family that is stalked and killed off by some mysterious horror. Instead, we saw a realistically portrayed traditional family, failings and all, that prayed and stayed together. Moreover, they were a resourceful and hard-scrabbled family who learned not only how to survive, but also to thrive as they were able to safely bring a baby into an obviously hostile world.
Given that the first film ended on a cliffhanger, the delayed debut of Part 2 was an unfortunate turn of events. Nevertheless, the sequel was well-worth the wait, as once again Krasinski manages to create and tell another tension-filled story. Granted Part 2 mirrors the first film in some ways with strong performances, a moving story, and another cliffhanger ending, but throughout it all is still a very pro-family message. After all Krasinski himself said in an interview about the first movie that it was meant to be a metaphor about modern parenting and to what lengths we would go to protect our children, and it was something he wanted to expand upon in Part 2. So even though the father is gone, the love, wisdom, and protectiveness he modeled in the first film, is carried on by the remaining Abbots in the sequel as the characters grow in their abilities to survive and do their part to rid the world of the aliens.
However, as in the first part, it is the way that Krasinski tells his story that makes both films so memorable. For living as we do in a such a continuous culture, that pines for a vicarious release of stress and tension through frenetic action-packed movies, this film could certainly have been made to reflect that mood. It could’ve been filled with combat and explosions like Independence Day or Cloverfield. Or seeing as Regan plays a crucial role in Part 2, it could’ve been made as an empowering Mary Sue flick, with Regan putting men in their place and littering the land with alien corpses with a mix of martial arts and high-powered weaponry that she would somehow be an expert in.
And yet that is not the route Krasinski took, and instead he tells a series of personal tales of individual struggles that all come together to help reorder a world that has fallen apart. Interestingly enough though, the film also tells a story that perfectly embodies Saint Paul’s words that God’s grace is sufficient for our sufferings and that his power “is made perfect in weakness.” All of the characters in Part 2 in some way, have crosses to bear or a crown of thorns to wear, in the form of deafness, anxiety, depression, or caring for an infant (who are not known for being quiet) that can get them killed at any moment.
However, none of these burdens or the characters' apparent meekness in the face of the aliens, should be mistaken for weakness, as all of the characters rise to the occasion and carry on. We see a mother, cut in the mold of St. Margaret the Dragon slayer, protect and care for her family from the Death Angels. Marcus who, we learn in the flashback sequence suffers from anxiety, is able to muster the strength to watch and protect his infant sibling while his mother goes off for supplies. Regan transforms and expands the sacrificial love she learned from her father, from a love of her family to a love of neighbor, when she is moved to give others a fighting chance against the Death Angels. And lastly, we see how Emmet, who has clearly been broken by his loses, changes his mind on helping the Abbots. In fact, it is Regan who convinces him to master his fears and failings, and to try to do for others what he was unable to do for his family before- to save lives. Furthermore, all of this is done without any of the female characters sacrificing their maternal or feminine qualities. In fact, their shortcomings are clearly recognized and portrayed in the movie, and thus we see how their actions are complimented by the two male figures in the story who must essentially “man up” to play the role of protector.
Ultimately, A Quiet Place Part 2 is a story of relatable and ordinary people who, through virtuous behavior, maintain their courage and hope for a better future. A future that can only be attained by caring and fighting for the one thing that provides the perfect bridge to that future: the family. And it is a testament to our times that there are people educated enough to identify the problems plaguing the world, but are not wise enough to recognize that none of them will be solved without descendants to carry on the business of living and improving the world. This is why, if for no other reason, Part 2 is well-worth seeing, as its pro-family storyline is the ideal corrective to the jaded, entitled, and self-obsessed mood that pervades our contemporary culture.
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