More than 14 months after it was scheduled for release, A Quiet Place Part II finally tiptoes into cinemas.
The good news is that it is well worth the pandemic-enforced wait, and not only because it depicts a world more imperilled than our own. It is terrific, and really should be seen on the biggest screen possible.
A little like the second instalment of The Godfather trilogy, which is a flattering point of comparison for any cinematic follow-up, it acts as a sequel and a prequel. An exhilarating pre-credits sequence shows us how Planet Earth (well, the U.S., which in the movies counts as the same thing) landed in the almighty maelstrom that, at the start of the first film, was already well under way.
The 2018 original began on Day 89 of the apocalypse, but Part II whisks us back to Day One. Lee and Evelyn Abbott (John Krasinski and Emily Blunt) are at a Little League baseball game featuring their son Marcus (Noah Jupe). Near them in the stand is another dad, Emmett (Cillian Murphy, transferring his Peaky Blinders charisma to the big screen). The scene is pure, wholesome Americana, until something strange starts happening in the sky.
Yes, it’s the beginning of an extraterrestrial invasion. Soon, the terror has begun, at the savage claws and deadly teeth of monstrous ravagers that are blind but possess what one of the literary heroes of my childhood, the schoolboy Jennings, would have called supersonic ear-sight.
It’s such a simple premise for a horror-thriller, turning The Day Of The Triffids on its head by making the predator blind, not the prey, that it’s a wonder nobody has done it this well before. Make a sound and they will find you, and eat you.
Krasinski, also the writer-director, handles the prequel masterfully. But then he must write himself out of proceedings because, as those who saw the first film (possibly between their fingers) will recall, poor, brave Lee ended up as an alien’s breakfast.
We skip to Day 474. Evelyn, though very resourceful, is now widowed with two surviving children and a baby to fend for. At an abandoned foundry, they run into Emmett, who is mourning his own family and in no mood to play proxy.
It is now that Evelyn’s profoundly deaf teenage daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds) moves centre stage. The first film ended on a hopeful note, with the realisation that these apparently invulnerable creatures could be disabled by amplifying high-frequency feedback from Regan’s hearing aid.
When this splendid girl then realises that the song Beyond The Sea is being played repeatedly on a radio by way of a signal, to alert people that there is a safe haven on a distant island, she sets off armed only with a rifle and her hearing aid. Evelyn begs Emmett to go after her. The tension duly mounts to the same knuckle-chewing pitch as last time, as Krasinski cuts repeatedly between Regan, Emmett and the others.