Rewatching the A Quiet Place Series Reveals a Completely Different Experience

Rewatching the A Quiet Place Series Reveals a Completely Different Experience

When Scott and I began planning the project that would become The Reveal, we knew reviews had to be a part of it. Despite my past experience with reviews, I felt a bit rusty, especially with new movies. Most of my recent reviews had been for TV shows, usually for TV Guide. So, I decided to get back into the groove by writing more reviews, even before our project was fully up and running.

At The A.V. Club, I used to write four or five reviews a week, covering a mix of new movies, DVDs, and books. Reviews are often the hardest thing for a freelancer to place, but I love them. They offer a simple assignment: What did you think of this movie? Here’s a review.

Traditionally, we’ve written reviews in third-person style, and we’ll likely continue that. But let’s acknowledge that watching movies is a first-person experience. A Quiet Place Part II was the second film I saw after being fully vaccinated. The first was Gunda at Chicago’s Music Box Theatre. I was so grateful to be back in a theater that I could have been watching anything and still been happy.

However, my experience was slightly marred by a fellow moviegoer who turned on their phone light and waved it around for about ten minutes. After biting my tongue for too long, I politely asked them to turn it off. It was a quiet place no more.

That night, I wrote a review. If I had to summarize it, I’d say, “Sometimes a sequel is completely unnecessary but still incredibly welcome.” The world shut down just before the scheduled release of the second A Quiet Place film. It came out months later, just as the world was beginning to open up. For a few glorious weeks, it seemed like we might once again go to movies with abandon.

A Quiet Place Part II can now be watched at home on Paramount Plus. When it arrived in theaters in the spring of 2018, John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place sparked a debate about “elevated horror,” a term used to describe more thoughtful and artful horror films. It was silly talk. Horror has always produced thoughtful, artful movies. And when they aren’t, that’s okay too. Let’s not undersell the value of cheap thrills.

A Quiet Place had its fair share of those. Krasinski, who had worked as a writer and director in the indie world, revealed himself as an accomplished stylist who knew how to stage a suspense sequence of pressure-cooker intensity. The script, co-written by Bryan Woods and Scott Beck and reworked by Krasinski, provides an inherently scary premise: What if the Earth had been taken over by blind aliens who hunt human prey via their incredible sense of hearing? The film relentlessly exploits this premise, forcing its characters to remain quiet or risk being ripped to shreds.

The first film also stirs immediate sympathy by focusing on a single family of survivors: dad Lee Abbott (Krasinski), pregnant mom Evelyn (Emily Blunt), and their children, most significantly the teenaged Regan (Millicent Simmonds, a deaf actor playing a deaf character) and her younger brother Marcus (Noah Jupe). The scope is intimate. There are no stirring speeches given by presidents, just a mom and dad doing their best to keep their kids safe in a terrifying world. If emotional investment and metaphorical resonance elevate horror, then A Quiet Place has that in abundance.

Krasinski saw that mix of horror and family drama through to the bitter end, an end that offered little suggestion there was more story to tell. Unless, of course, the sequel featured a flashback. Which it does: A Quiet Place Part II opens with a depiction of the initial invasion from the perspective of the Abbotts’ unsuspecting, unprepared small town. It’s one of Part II’s three remarkable set pieces, making it a gripping, satisfying sequel, albeit one that has no compelling reason to exist beyond offering variations on the original.

But maybe that’s okay. Blunt, Jupe, and especially Simmonds are all excellent, and Krasinski again shows he knows how to tighten the screws in tense scenes. One involving Marcus, his infant brother, and a dwindling oxygen supply plays like a nightmare that won’t stop intensifying. Does it matter that the sequel feels a bit mechanical? Or that it retcons Emmett (Cillian Murphy), a previously unmentioned family friend, into the story? Or that it brings in both Djimon Hounsou and Scoot McNairy without giving them much to do?

Ultimately, it’s a film driven by the demands of horror sequels, offering more of what fans of the first film liked in different, but not too different forms. It’s a calculated way to make a horror movie but no less effective because of it. It doesn’t hurt that A Quiet Place Part II arrived in theaters at the best possible moment, one in which audiences wanted to be reminded of what it was like to sit in the dark in a room made electric with tension, and to hope together that everyone on screen somehow makes it out alive, no matter how dark and eerily hushed their world (and ours) has become.

Rewatching the A Quiet Place series reveals a completely different experience. The first viewing is all about the suspense and the novelty of the premise. But on subsequent viewings, the emotional depth and the intricate details of the family dynamics become more apparent. The performances, especially by Simmonds and Blunt, stand out even more. The sound design, which is crucial to the film’s tension, becomes even more impressive. The series is not just about surviving in a world overrun by monsters; it’s about the lengths parents will go to protect their children and the resilience of the human spirit.

Source: The A.V. Club, NPR

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