Review: A Quiet Place Part II
John Krasinski’s 2018 film A Quiet Place silently shook moviegoers in multiple ways. Effective tension and horror throughout was one thing, and memorable, emotional plot points was another accomplished feat. But here at Cross Processing, what struck out to us most about A Quiet Place was the unabashed love and respect for the family unit, which is unfortunately missing in most films being released in our current time frame. When Krasinski and Co. announced Part II, a concern was that the sequel would wander from the established themes and storytelling prowess that the original delivered. Thankfully, it only took a few minutes of runtime for Part II to convince audiences that it wasn’t about to drastically change course. As it turns out, Krasinski still has more of the Abbott family story to tell, and the beating heart of the original remains strong.
We really, really loved this long-awaited sequel, and couldn’t wait to write about it for our readers. Instead of writing two different pieces, we wanted to combine our thoughts into one review. The review may be a bit different than you’re used to reading, as we’re going to focus on delivering our thoughts through the discernment points that Jerram Barrs describes in his book Echoes of Eden (which was written about previously). We hope you enjoy the review, and although the following may have a fair deal of spoilers, we hope this review convinces you to watch the movie for yourself if you haven’t already.
The Presence of Truth
D: I believe there is a lot of beautiful truths to glean from this film, but probably what stood out to me the most was the importance of legacy, and not only the importance of it, but the glory of it. Consider the verses from Romans: “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” I want to put emphasis on not receiving a “spirit of slavery to fall back into fear.” Evelyn, Emmett, and all the others were so controlled by fear that all their efforts and resources were focused on merely surviving and making it through each hour, having no energy or will to think beyond their current circumstances. Yet what I loved was that Regan’s mind wasn’t just on surviving but thriving. Her mind was geared to solving problems but doing so by looking at the bigger picture. She correctly discerns and decodes the message from those who survived and created a sanctuary on a small island on the coast. This tendency towards careful observation, methodical practice of skill, and ultimately looking for a better way of living is something she inherits from her father, and what keeps her mind working towards bigger and better solutions. Hers is a creative mind that is geared towards future hope, not to just present safety.
Emmett makes a comment to her at one point in the film that he wasn’t like Lee at all, but that Regan was. This is meant in more ways than one. Lee was a man who gave his family that kind of hope through the careful, clever building of a world where they could have a life. Lee was resourceful, creative, and untiring in his vigilance towards making sure his children had a future. Regan “carries the torch” further by pursuing his vision unrelentingly, even finding a way to further exploit the alien weakness and
ultimately defeat them. Marcus does as well. Both she and her brother walk within their father’s spirit which leads them to overcome fear itself and stand triumphant against their enemy. Although Lee was gone, the legacy he gave his children lived on, and they were able to achieve not only what he achieved, but even more. In the end, the Abbott Family legacy brought them true glory.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.”
— John 14:12 ESV
S: As a Christian, watching A Quiet Place Part II was like seeing Psalm 127: 3-5 come to life:
“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.” (ESV)
Two films into Krasinski’s story, I do believe that this is one of the primary messages that he wants to give to his audience. We have seen a father and mother sacrifice so much to keep their children safe, and now in the second chapter, we’re given climatic scenes where the children literally defend the generation who came before them with modern-day projectiles. Arrows in a quiver indeed! In a culture where children are increasingly discarded - both literally and figuratively - one would think that this message would or should be controversial. Interestingly enough, I haven’t seen one complaint or critique about this message in all of the reviews and analyses I’ve read and heard about the film. How revealing is that? A Quiet Place Part II has truth that most everyone is rallying behind, even though they may not support said truth with other beliefs they may hold.
Existence of Moral Goodness
S: The amount of ministers and pastors who rail against the “Hollywood machine” completely miss parabolic gems like A Quiet Place Part II. One of the many lessons that this sequel gives audiences is a lesson on help, which is told through the characters of Emmett and Marcus. Both characters are paralyzed by fear and the experiences of losing people dear to them, but they’re different in how they deal with their pain, which of course affects their relationships with those close to them. For Marcus, he needs to learn how to overcome his fear to help the family he has left, but for Emmett, he has nobody left in his life until the Abbotts come along. What’s even more unnerving about Emmett is that he was clearly ready to sacrifice the remaining Abbott family to keep himself alive, refusing to rush to their aid when they arrived in his vicinity. Emmett’s self-preservation almost led to his downfall, while Marcus’ learned self-preservation was for his own good and for his family’s good. The film did a great job with showing what can happen if you take a learned skill, like self-preservation, too far, which is a lesson commonly utilized in apocalypse stories. Thankfully, Krasinski used A Quiet Place Part II to bring redemption to the character fighting with the extreme tendencies, and refused to let them wallow and die in this struggle, like many other apocalypse stories do.
D: Krasinski’s films are the rare kind of films in which goodness is exemplified and carried out through a redemptive outlook. I see this most prevalently in the character of Emmett. Emmett is a broken man, having lost all his family, including his beloved son. He is only focused on survival, but a survival that doesn’t even have any hope. He has isolated himself within his warehouse bunker and did not even seek out his friends, the Abbotts, when they signaled to him. He is reluctant to help them even now, despite one of his traps having caused serious injury to Marcus. He is the epitome of a man who has nothing and no one.
Yet by helping and protecting Regan, Emmett regains a part of himself that he had lost: his humanity. Even more than this he regains a sense of purpose, hope, and honor. There was a life worth living and preserving beyond the sorrow of his own loss and he finds it within this remarkable young woman who shows him a new way of living. In the end, he becomes much more like Lee than he had ever given himself credit for, and by this trial he not only aids Regan to her victory but finds his own victory as well.
D: Krasinski has proven himself to be an exemplary filmmaker, and I think his methods of storytelling are evident in his camera work and use of sound or lack thereof. There are two instances I can think of where this came through wonderfully. Since we are familiar with his world from his first film, Krasinski cleverly uses our knowledge against us in order to create tension and suspense. In the flashback scene where we get to see the beginning of the invasion, we have people whispering and talking in their fear or talking to loved ones on their phones as they try to hide. None of the characters, save Lee (who is beginning to suspect at this point), know the physiological make-up of these aliens, and so our anxiety is heightened for their dilemma. We, the audience, are fully aware of what they’re capable of, but the characters are not.
Another great moment that builds tension is what Krasinski chooses to reveal in the camera. At the film’s climax, Regan and Emmett are trying to break into the radio station and find that an alien is right there in the room with them. Regan sees a sliding window which she could climb through in order to get to the radio, and she has Emmett help her open it and guide her through. The camera pans down with her foot as she tries to find a ledge with which to steady herself as she descends. As the camera pans with her, it reveals all manner of material and objects that, with one wrong move from Regan, could have disastrous effects. We hold our breath, taught and anxious for her, as she avoids each obstacle, all in complete silence. Masterclass!
S: In Krasinski’s sequel, one thing that really jumped out at me (no pun intended) is the change of lighting. Whereas the first film was mostly shrouded in darkness (many scenes taking place at night, darkened basements, claustrophobic silo interiors, etc.), Part II was brave enough to show the bulk of its monster shots in the broad daylight. There are logical reasons for this - a bigger budget means more detailed CGI - but there may be a narrative reason too. Darkness is used as a symbol for the unknown, a universal fear that every human can relate to. Now that the Abbott family knows how to deal with the alien monsters, there’s not as much “unknown” that comes along with those beasts. But when a member of the family meets a twisted group of human antagonists at the boat docks who may be worse than the aliens themselves? Krasinski plunges us into darkness again. Thankfully, his maturity as a storyteller and director shows, as we have yet to leave a showing of a Krasinski movie lacking hope.
S: I suppose it’s not an impossible feat, but I would find it very hard to believe that John Krasinski and Emily Blunt could craft and perform a story like this and not believe the blatant messages the film embraces. The story and characters feel much too real - and too personal - to be strawmen. Much has been said already about the value this film places on the family unit and the value of children especially, but it’s clear that Krasinski respects humanity on a holistic scale. To go back to the example of Emmett, this is a character that goes from loving people, to feeling apathy towards them, and then back to defending and rescuing them even at the possible expense of his life. The community that Emmett and Regan meet on the island is also lacking in evil or nefarious intentions, which was a welcome sight - especially after the last group encounter the duo found. But even then, the comparisons were stark between the two people groups, which was by design. Krasinski is very good at showing what man - or woman - should be like, and what happens when we fall short of that design.
D: I think what I love about the Quiet Place films the most and what I believe makes them such strong stories is that John Krasinski and his wife Emily Blunt truly and deeply believe in the sanctity of life and the value of children. Krasinski said he made the first film as a testament to his family, and the second film continues that legacy. Krasinski’s films prove that children aren’t a hindrance to human progress, but the essential point of it. So much so that the Abbott family chose to have a baby within a world that in every way was hostile to such a thing, and that they were willing to give their very lives to make sure their children could live.
A Quiet Place Part II continues this, when Evelyn pleads with their family friend, Emmett, to go after her daughter and bring her back safely. She says something to the effect that while Emmett might have given up on humanity seeing no value within their corrupt nature, there is value in Regan, that she is worthy. Children are a grace within a fallen and broken world, and Krasinski and his wife believe this fully.
D: I believe all the points listed above powerfully showcase how this is an honorable and worthy work, where the emotions, pains, and triumphs feel genuine. I don’t think I have experienced such anxiety and suspense while watching a film in quite a long time, where I am literally trembling all over, muscles tight, as I watch the characters endure horrific circumstances. We also deeply feel the character stories of both Regan and Marcus in this film, as Krasinski takes the time to have them earn their moments of victory. I especially loved how Krasinski gave Marcus his own story, a young boy who is consumed so much by fear, trauma, and lack of confidence in his own abilities. We are introduced to this at the beginning in the flashback as Marcus finds it difficult to play baseball, clearly full of uncertainty at being able to have the strength or the skill. Evelyn encourages him on the field, and throughout the entire film as she needs to rely on him more and more for the protection and survival of their family. Marcus is fighting stubbornly against this responsibility, still so much just a terrified child who is being forced to grow up in impossible circumstances.
Yet in the end he is able to overcome his fear and protect his mother and little brother, even to the point of boldly stepping towards the alien, which seems unthinkable up until this point. Instead of cowering in fear or running, Marcus approaches and pushes back their enemy, going on the offensive and ready to slay it dead, unwavering in his newfound strength. It is moments like these that Krasinski builds and earns so wonderfully. It is sublime.
S: Much of the critique I’ve seen about A Quiet Place Part II is in regards to the many “jump scares” scattered through the runtime. As a fan of horror films, jump scares do nothing for me, as I’m too used to them. I feel neutral about the feature, even though I appreciate a well-presented “scary” frame. As such, I enjoyed the “jump scares” in this movie mainly because I was very interested in seeing how the monsters hunted. As the film took place mostly in better lighting, the visuals of the attacks and the aftershock the characters expressed felt more real to me.
Even though there were more “jump scares” in this sequel, the times of true terror were much more serious. The scene that shocked me the most was the bear trap scene, as I was not expecting that kind of development at all, especially with the character who triggered it. It reminded me of A Quiet Place’s scene with the rusty nail in the staircase that Evelyn stepped on, except this time it wasn’t foreshadowed at all. It was genuine tension that evoked realistic fear, and as a father watching this movie, I gripped my seat the hardest when this scene took place, as I couldn’t imagine dealing with a situation like that with my young daughter and staying quiet about it. Great art provides authenticity, and the true scary moments of this film felt 100% authentic.
How can we apply this film to our lives, inspiring us towards a greater worship of God and love of His creation?
S: In His famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus speaks about His followers being the “salt of the earth.” While many readers may focus on the flavor aspect of salt - mainly because of Jesus’ follow-up statements about salt losing its taste - not all understand the other feature of salt that Jesus was referring to. Historically and to this very day, salt is used to reduce or delay the decaying of meat, acting as a preservative. If we are to take the full metaphor of how Jesus describes His followers, then our lives are not just about adding flavor, but also about actively preventing the decay of the world. In essence, a preservative of both the human race and the environment we live in.
In A Quiet Place Part II, we see the Abbott family taking on this role seriously as each of them grow into their ever-adapting roles in an apocalyptic landscape. As they learn and become more proficient with their survival instincts, all while keeping a high, biblical view of humanity, they’re slowly but surely changing the tide of their struggle. Not only are they defeating the alien invaders who destroyed their world and took from them people they loved, but they’re actively changing the hearts of those who became cold to the world and losing their very souls in the quiet darkness. If this isn’t how followers of Jesus should act, please help me understand where I’m getting it all wrong!
D: Whenever I see a movie that resonates with such truth and beauty, I am always inspired to worship God and His handiwork. When we tell stories, or create art of any kind, we are co-creators with Him. Art is redemptive and restorative, healing the soils of our hearts and our culture. Even from those artists who do not have His Spirit, if they stay true to reality and tap into the vein of beauty that throbs at the heart of it, they still are a part of that work of grace. In this case, I believe now more than ever we need stories and art that reflects the value of children. With more than 60 million babies legally aborted since 1973, having a child is seen as a burden both financially and emotionally. They are seen as an inconvenience and a hindrance, best to be discarded. We fall into a scarcity mindset, where having a child is seen as eating up resources or contributing to over-population. Whatever the scientific or ideological reason given, it is clear that we value preserving our own lives and getting through the day to day, rather than thinking about preserving a better future life for the next generation. I believe these films show that there is a better way.
Even though I am single, I have always strongly valued and desired children, and this year I am going to become an aunt for the very first time! You can imagine I am pretty excited! I want to be able to pour into my nephew’s life in a way that builds him up and equips him for the world. I hope to do this to the best of my abilities, as it should be our desire to always give the next generation the tools and wisdom necessary so that they may live better and do better than we ever could.
A Quiet Place Part II is available to stream digitally today and will be available to own on DVD & Blu-Ray on July 27th.