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We knew it was coming, but even so, it snuck up on us.
No, we’re not talking about the new year. We’re talking about the full trailer for Paramount’s A Quiet Place Part II. The first film, A Quiet Place (2018), saw director John Krasinski emerge as a surprising new voice in the horror genre, with its story of a family forced to survive in a world with monsters that hunt by sound. The pic, which starred Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe, went on to gross $340.9 million worldwide on a $21 million budget, making it one of the year’s biggest success stories for an original film. Not only a hit with audiences and a reason to opt in for a theatrical experience, A Quiet Place also scored big with critics and went on to earn an Academy Award nomination for best sound editing, along with several Critics’ Choice nominations. A sequel was inevitable, and seemingly daunting, with Krasinski admitting that he envisioned the film as a one-off before considering the possibilities of exploring a larger world. The new trailer makes it clear that Krasinski isn’t treading down the same path of the first film, but opening up new avenues through which explore the great lengths humans will go to in order to survive.
The trailer opens up with a flashback: sightless creatures raining down on a small town as Evelyn Abbott (Blunt) struggles to drive through the wreckage. The opening of the trailer is the antithesis of that of the first film in that it’s loud — noticeably so. We hear everything: the search for a signal on the radio, car horns, breaking glass, shouting and tire squeals. It’s all the sounds of a world gone by before we’re thrown back into the familiar quiet, the whispers and sign language that affect communication in the present-day world of the new pic. The first film only dropped hints at the origins of the sightless, highly evolved creatures, but newspapers clippings in the Abbotts’ home suggested they were extraterrestrial in origin. (Krasinski later confirmed this in interviews after the pic’s release.) While there is obviously some desire to learn more about where these creatures come from and their home world or dimension, the mystery behind the monsters is in part what made them so frightening — they could have come from anywhere. Nevertheless, if the flashback suggests that we will learn about the origins of these creatures and the specifics of their invasion, A Quiet Place Part II doesn’t look like it’s going full-scale sci-fi. Instead, it would appear that even if one form of monster is fully revealed, another is lurking in the shadows.
Following the release of A Quiet Place, Krasinski talked a lot about his process of making the film and rewriting the original script from Scott Beck and Bryan Woods. The vulnerability of parenthood became a major theme of the pic, contributing to the layered portrayals of the leads through which Steven Spielberg’s Jaws (1975) served as a major inspiration. So much of the reason why we care about the characters in peril is that the film focuses on reconnecting the family unit, creating a sense of empathy and compassion between each member. But what happens when you’re no longer safely housed in the cocoon of familial relationships? What happens when you’re forced to contend with the outside world and viewpoints and morals that come as an affront to what you’ve built and your parenting methods? From the trailer, that seems to be the core of the Abbotts’ struggle in the sequel.
“The people that are left are not the kind of people worth saving,” says a new character played by Cillian Murphy. Many of those who have survived the invasion have no doubt had to do terrible things to ensure their safety, and Murphy’s character seems to have an almost religious moral conviction about those who are left. Whether he sees the creatures as some kind result of the Rapture or if he’s taken it upon himself to be judge, jury and executioner, his agenda appears to be in direct opposition to the Abbotts’. While so many invasion films focus on uniting forces, A Quiet Place Part II seems interested in the innate division that affects humanity’s ability to save themselves. We also get a brief glimpse of Djimon Hounsou’s character, who appears aligned with Murphy’s and has sinister plans for the children of this world, whether it be an attempt to preserve their innocence or shelter them from the outside world. Perhaps A Quiet Place Part II will deal with conflicting parenting methods, set against the backdrop of an America in turmoil. It would be a fitting thematic exploration for a filmmaker interested in fraught human relationships in contemporary small-town settings.
While the announcement of A Quiet Place Part II and the expansion of this world came with some expectation that the movie would take a page from Aliens (1986) and with Evelyn and Regan Abbott (Simmonds) battling hordes of monsters, armed with their shotgun and feedback device, the sequel looks to go in a more restrained direction. The canvas is obviously bigger, but if anything, the pic looks like a means to expand the themes of the first film and react to the changing social structures in our world. If the follow-up can manage the careful character consideration of the original and offer new surprises and keep us holding our breath, then we expect A Quiet Place Part II to make a lot of noise when it lands in theaters in March.
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