Director: John Krasinski Screenwriter: John Krasinski Cast: Emily Blunt, Cillian Murphy, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, Djimon Hounsou, John Krasinski Distributor: Paramount Pictures Running Time: 97 min. MPAA: PG-13

The world of sound-sensing monsters from the 2018 hit A Quiet Place expands just enough in its sequel. More of the world is explored but only to a degree where the audience is more fascinated than forced to read the obvious signs of humanity degrading. More monster action is to be had but never to a point where the characters are gunning down creatures by the dozens. More importantly, however, is that the nail-biter aspects that made the first film so notable are still just as jolt-worthy and intense in this second chapter.

Times have gotten tougher for the Abbott family. Having endured the death of two family members in the previous film, the matriarch of Evelyn (Emily Blunt) finds herself trying to defend her three kids in a world of monsters that attack based on sound. It isn’t easy considering her daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds) is deaf, her son Marcus (Noah Jupe) is injured, and her new baby requires containment to remain quiet. With their farm ablaze, they go on the (quiet) run from monsters, remaining cautious of the few remaining humans. They rely on the humanity of Emmett (Cillian Murphy), a friend from the before-time who has also suffered great loss.

What’s remarkable is how it feels like just enough of this monster apocalypse has been expanded without being a slog of lore, still crisp and briskly edited. The opening prologue before the monsters ravage humanity gives a perfect glimpse into a world of sound where the Abbott father Lee (John Krasinski) tried to do the right thing during a dangerous event that brought civilization to an end. Back in the present of sparse humans and numerous monsters, a few survivors are revealed in the form of either the violent stragglers of the harbor and the docile survivors of a remote island. The monsters are also given just enough frequency and detail to seem more terrifying with merely one lurking in the shadows than a slew of them swarming the cowering humans.

Krasinski’s stellar direction manages to maintain the anxiety of the first film by upping the ante on the danger without overdoing it. There’s one particular moment of three separate stories that all boil with uncertainty quite well, making one question whether or not the characters will survive an encounter or run out of air. There’s a tingling sense that the Abbotts will mostly be okay but everything is framed in such a way where I was gripping my seat. After all, two Abbotts have been killed in the previous movie and kids are not off the menu of the monsters.

Much praise for the direction is mostly due to a maintainment of the style that relies on stellar sound editing and effects. The monsters are kept scary by doing most of their killing in the background and showcasing their grotesque features in the foreground. The human interactions are kept brief and too the point, featuring emotional and stern performances that are always engaging. Regan really becomes the ultimate hero in this story as the dead girl who not only holds the key to destroying the monsters but the determination to do so when the adults have lost hope.

A Quiet Place Part II continues the story as another strong chapter of an intensely satisfying horror. Everything from the performances to the direction is spot-on enough to make one feel less like they’re watching an ordered sequel and more of a continuation of a sublime postapocalytpic horror series. With such tight editing as well in a film where all the fat feels trimmed in under 100 minutes, there is more than enough allure to make me eagerly anticipate the next part of this uniquely constructed world that manages to be more than just rollercoaster jumpscares. The jumpscares feel more than earned when I don’t feel guilty being jolted by monsters and corpses.

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