In a recent argument with a friend about the way movies should be enjoyed, I advocated seeing movies on the largest screen possible because that’s the way most directors, like Christopher Nolan, Martin Scorsese, and Steven Spielberg intended their films to be viewed. My friend thought this was an elitist point of view. After all, there’s no right way to watch a movie, according to my friend. You just have to sit down and make time to watch a two-hour-long film, and who cares what condition your TV is in. If only he’d watch the hit horror film “A Quiet Place Part II” on the big screen, he might be singing a different tune.
Of course, “A Quiet Place Part II” isn’t the scariest film of the year. Not by a long shot. But writer/director John Krasinski did a good job creating cinematic tension. You can just feel the monsters about to leap out from the shadows at any moment, as though you were stuck inside the world of the screen, and that’s what makes this the perfect film to see in theaters. Put another way, it encapsulates the experience of America in 2021, as many of us are acting as though the world around us is dangerous and we’re effectively under arrest.
After a short prologue in which we learn how the aliens arrived on Earth and started murdering people who speak above a murmur, the film opens by panning across different parts of an alien’s anatomy strewn across the Abbott family’s basement. Our heroine, Evelyn (Emily Blunt), gathers her children, Regan (Millicent Simmonds), Marcus (Noah Jupe) and their newborn baby to safety, after finding a way to defeat the aliens.
They head to the industrial part of town, where they meet family friend Emmett (Cillian Murphy), who has lost his children to the aliens and his wife to an illness. In the process, Emmett lost hope, too. He has become cynical and scared, even forgetting what it means to truly live. It takes young Regan—who has learned how to combat the alien menace by transmitting the frequency from her hearing aids to a radio station that broadcasts worldwide—to convince Emmett to keep living, despite the danger and despair. He gets his fighting spirit back and decides that it is better to avenge his suffering than to let it destroy him.
Both Murphy and Blunt are excellent in their roles, but Blunt’s steely yet motherly character is particularly interesting. She gives steadiness to a story that threatens to turn sour either by despair or fury. Murphy does a great job, transforming from a cynic with nothing to live for to believing in something bigger than himself, in order to save the lives of other people, as well as his own soul. The real stars of the film, however, are the kids.
The original “A Quiet Place” is about what a parent would do to protect his or her family from external threats, which can be seen as a commentary on helicopter parenting. The sequel takes it one step further and portrays children and adolescents overcoming their fears to become their own persons. Teenage daughter Regan was simply willful in the beginning of the story, but decides to fulfill her father’s mission to get rid of the aliens absent an adult to tell her what to do, taking her character to new heights. Her younger brother Marcus is not so brave. In the prologue, we see how scared he is when a fastball whizzes just above his head. He even begs his mother to stay with him instead of going after help, despite the possibility of losing his leg after a terrible injury. Only at the climax of the film does he overcome his fear. Instead of whimpering while his mother is away to get drugs, Marcus grows into his responsibilities as a big brother and takes care of the newborn, the only character even more vulnerable than he is. Once he realizes that his weakness can lead him to find strength, Marcus even protects his mother and the newborn with deadly force when an alien barges into their hideout.
The story as a whole is inspiring; it will warm your heart, and will remind you that we all long for a family to give us the strength to be ourselves. It’s a quiet way of saying America needs family if we are going to have freedom. The prologue of the movie especially speaks to patriotism by showing how our way of life is threatened, how America is being replaced by a ghost world of constant fear. Of course, some will say that “A Quiet Place Part II’”is simply a looser and less original version of the first movie. Perhaps. But the sequel is the perfect movie for right now, as people return to the movie theaters and out of their own quiet places, seeing films the way we’re supposed to. Like these characters, we too have to get back to living our lives.