REVIEW: A QUIET PLACE PART II (2021)

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A QUIET PLACE PART II (2021)

Sequel opens with a flashback pre-credits sequence to the day the creatures landed and the first encounter between the Abbott family and the vicious predatory visitors who hunt by sound. We then pick up directly after the end of A Quiet Place with mom Evelyn taking daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds), son Marcus (Noah Jupe) and her newborn, away from their destroyed home and in search of survivors. They find themselves at what appears to be an abandoned factory where Marcus is severely injured in a bear trap. The factory is now home to Emmett (Cillian Murphy), a friend of the Abbott’s who has lost all those he loves. At first, Emmett wants them gone, as he feels guilty over what he believes is his failure to save his own family, and he doesn’t want to be responsible for them. Soon though, he gets drawn into pursuing Regan, who sneaks off to find what she believes is a group of survivors on a nearby island. This leaves Evelyn alone at the factory to protect her baby and the badly wounded Marcus.

Sequel is once again exceptionally well directed by John Krasinski, from his own script. He has two suspenseful stories going on at once, as Emmett finds and agrees to help Regan in her quest to get to a small island off the coast and Evelyn is trying to protect a limp son and infant child. Obviously, circumstances will bring the predatory beasts about for both parties, as well as, an encounter with some not so civilized survivors for Emmett and Regan. There is some really nice suspense, some very clever touches and once again Krasinski uses some of the story’s more predictable elements to his advantage. We know what’s coming and he uses that to reel us in. Having two storylines running concurrently also works well and Krasinski gives it a nice balance, so no one story gets more attention than the other. We also get dual suspense sequences going on at the same time, more than once, and the director shifts focus deftly, so they are equally potent. The FX are once again very well done. Krasinski keeps the tension taunt and there is enough violence to keep our creatures threatening, yet it remains a strong PG-13 to appeal to a wider audience. We do learn a few new things about the critters. Though they still remain largely mysterious, as they appear to be animals, yet also seem to be acting with a genocidal single purpose. As it has been revealed that this is the second part in a planned trilogy, Part II doesn’t conclude the story outright, or give us too many answers, but does end with a satisfying finale…yet one that smartly leaves us wanting more.

The small cast are once again strong here, with the addition of Cillian Murphy and Djimon Hounsou to the surviving regulars. Emily Blunt is solid as a mother, who has lost a son and a husband and is now desperate and fortified to not lose anyone else. Cillian Murphy is very good as a man devastated over the loss of his family and bitter and angry at himself for what he perceives as a failure to protect them. Through Regan he gets a chance at redemption. As Regan, deaf actress Millicent Simmonds is the real surprise here, as she is wonderful with a more central and important role in this sequel. Once again, she gives depth to the character without benefit of lengthy dialogue to express herself. Regan is the key to the possible eventuality of turning the tide against the invaders and her heroism, resolve and selflessness, in making this journey to save her family, is excellently played by the young actress. Noah Jupe is good as Marcus, a fragile, wounded and frightened boy, who is trying to be strong, especially when he finds himself alone with the infant. Krasinski puts in an extended cameo as likable father Lee in the opening flashback and Djimon Hounsou gives a strong characterization in a small role as a survivor. Ill-fated little Beau also appears in the flashback, but this time played by Dean Woodward, original Beau actor Cade Woodward’s younger brother. Once again, a good cast who perform their parts very well. No horror or suspense thriller completely works unless we are emotional invested in the characters. Script and director assure we are in this case.

Once again, John Krasinski proves that the notion that PG-13 horror is weak, is untrue. This is a taunt, intense and suspenseful movie with some nail-biting sequences and some very effective violent moments. What clichés are used, are used well…such as the stereotypical reverting to savagery by some folks in such an apocalyptic setting…and the flick presents some nice character growth and a sense of hope. A sequel that is very close to being an equal and one that has us eagerly anticipating A Quiet Place III.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 and 1/2 (out of 4) …SHHHHHH!…They’ll still hear you!

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REVIEW: A QUIET PLACE (2018)

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A QUIET PLACE (2018)

Our tale opens in the year 2020, just 89 days into some kind of apocalyptic event involving aggressive predators who hunt by sound and are virtually un-killable. We are introduced to the Abbott family, who have been surviving by living a life of silence at their remote farmhouse and raiding local stores for supplies. It is on one such supply run that little Beau (Cade Woodward) makes an innocent mistake, with a toy spaceship he got from a store and the Abbott’s suffer a devastating loss. The film then picks up about a year later when mother Evelyn (Emily Blunt) is pregnant again and father Lee (John Krasinski) is trying to make life comfortable and safe for his family, including Marcus (Noah Jupe) and his deaf older sister Regan (Millicent Simmonds), who blames herself for Beau’s death. One night, as Evelyn is about to give birth, a series of events separates the family members and the creatures are brought to their doorstep. Will the Abbotts be able to survive as their worst fear comes true?

While this is as mainstream as horror gets, it is exceptionally well directed by star Krasinski, who also co-wrote with Scott Beck and Bryan Woods. We’ve seen critters that hunt by sound before (The Descent), but never have we seen such a detailed world, crafted out of necessity, around their existence. The Abbotts walk barefoot and use trails of dirt to get from place to place. Their house has painted squares on the floor to mark the floor boards that don’t squeak. They eat on lettuce leaves instead of plates. As Regan is deaf, they all speak sign language and that helps them communicate quietly. They are an everyday family in a horrible situation and we like them and thus as they convey a constant sense of alertness and tension, we are tense, too. Krasinski keeps that intensity tight as little Beau’s demise illustrates what happens with the slightest sound…and that no one is safe…so we are startled whenever a sound is made. The director knows this and sets us up by the foreshadowing of sounds and accidents to come. Yes, this is a very manipulative flick, but in a very good way. We know that the nail pulled up will cause trouble and we damn well know Evelyn is not giving birth at a convenient time…and babies make lots of noise, too. And just so we never forget these beasts are dangerous, we get a few bloody reminders of what a mess they can make. Sure, the film can be predictable, but the director uses that against us and very well. There are some plot holes. The Abbott house is filed with items that look like they could fall at any moment…way too many tchotchkes for a family trying to be quiet…and just where are they getting electricity if the world is decimated…a generator?…and don’t generators make a lot of noise? Still the film is constructed expertly to get reactions out of the audience and it does. The sense of isolation also works very well, too, in keeping us on edge. The creatures are kept in shadows till the last act and are very effectively designed when we finally see them. They remain scary even when out of the dark. Their exact origin is kept ambiguous, but newspaper clippings in the Abbott house give us some information to make our own conclusions. The quiet nature of the film also gives opportunities for some fun jump scares, but not the cheap kind. There are legitimate scares here, even if we do feel Krasinski has been pulling our strings like a bunch of popcorn munching marionettes.

The small cast are great at conveying a loving family in a constant state of fear. Despite a lot on his plate, Krasinski the actor delivers a strong and caring father in his Lee Abbott. He will do anything for his family and his technical know-how helps create a safe place for them…as safe as it can be. A very likable man. Emily Blunt is solid as Evelyn. True, she becomes more of a damsel in distress in the second half, but portrays a strong woman nonetheless and one still wounded over the loss of one child, despite the impending birth of another. Deaf actress Millicent Simmonds is great as Regan. She is a strong-willed young girl, though one who feels directly responsible for the death of her little brother. She gives a very pained and emotional performance using only her body language and eyes. Noah Jupe is good as younger brother Marcus. Marcus is a frightened boy, especially after witnessing the death of his sibling, but will learn to be strong in a dangerous world. Finally cute little Cade Woodward made an impression as Beau. He doesn’t have a lot of screen-time, but made enough of an impact that his loss is very traumatic for the audience. A great cast that realistically portrays a loving family. Krasinski and Blunt are married in real life, so it probably wasn’t too much of a stretch.

Whoever says PG-13 horror is weak is proven wrong here by John Krasinski. In the right hands it can be a scary and suspenseful time and A Quiet Place sure is. True, this is a horror film for folks who don’t normally watch horror, but that’s just fine. This longtime horror fan had a fun time and really appreciated director John Krasinski’s manipulative and skilled direction. He gets the most out of his scenario and used some of it’s predictability to get us unsettled. Sometimes it’s just as nerve-wracking to know what’s coming as it is when not. The flick’s just bloody enough to get it’s point across and has some fearsome critters to add validity to our featured family’s fears. Well done and highly recommended.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 and 1/2 …SHHHHHH!…They’ll hear you!

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BARE BONES: SMILEY FACE

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SMILEY FACE (2007)

One-note stoner comedy tells the story of continually high Jane (Anna Faris). Jane’s day gets even more complicated when she accidentally eats pot-laced cupcakes and must now accomplish a series of errands and tasks even more stoned than usual.

Comedy from indie filmmaker Gregg Araki is basically a three minute Saturday Night Live type skit stretched out over 80 minutes from Dylan Haggerty’s script. Despite a cute and funny performance from Faris, as the perpetually-in-a-fog Jane and some funny bits, the film and it’s scenario wear out it’s welcome long before we reach the amusement park-set finale. Araki has a buoyant and colorful style, but there just isn’t enough laughs or story to make it worth sitting through almost 90 minutes of Jane’s weed induced hi-jinxs. Also stars Adam Brody, Jane Lynch, John Krasinski and with narration by Roscoe Lee Brown.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 star rating

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