Tuesday, July 13, 2021

A Quiet Place Part II


Day 1. The Abbott family are enjoying a beautiful afternoon attending Marcus’ community baseball game when everyone is shocked by what looks like a ball of fire falling from the sky. Curiosity is quick to turn into panic as extra-terrestrial predators suddenly emerge out of nowhere and go on a killing spree. More than 400 days later in the aftermath of Lee’s sacrifice to save them, Evelyn, Regan and Marcus set out to leave their now destroyed home with their newborn baby in tow and find refuge in an abandoned steel foundry. There they are reluctantly rescued by Emmett (Cillian Murphy), a family friend who has turned into a recluse after the tragic demise of his family in the hands of the aliens. Hesitant to help, he is convinced to do so after Regan departs unannounced to find the source of a radio signal, the song Beyond the Sea playing on loop, which she believes to be a hint from fellow survivors.

Perhaps it is just a trope in the survivalist genre or maybe this is backed up by studies in fields like behavioral science and the like. The most logical plot development after anchoring a post-apocalyptic story on a single character and benefiting from his or her individualistic POV is to find fellow survivors, shifting the focus to a more communal perspective. How do human beings relate to one another in the midst of a global threat that could wipe out our entire species? Luckily, A Quiet Place Part II remains loyal to that formula without coming across as either boring or redundant.

Despite not falling into an expected sophomore slump, the way the story unfolds in this sequel just echoes the first one. Even the ending is similar in tone, not that much of a cliffhanger and with just the right amount of vindictive flavor to clearly signal that the story does not end there. As such, watching both movies, if you also happen to stay home and just do a marathon on Paramount Plus that is, feels like binging a multi-episode TV series. That both films managed to become legit box office hits is perhaps a testament to Krasinski’s direction as well as the good faith established by Part I.

While it is tempting to label this feature as part-prequel and part-sequel, the opening sequence seems too abrupt to be treated as such. If anything, it just feels like some sort of omniscient flashback used to bridge the two episodes, with this sequel picking up right where the first one left off. You can watch both installments in one seating and you will feel like you are watching a single narrative, as long as you place that flashback somewhere appropriate.

It is rather disappointing to get just bits of info about the origin of the apocalyptic event, but after a short reflection you just come to the realization that perhaps this is just the way it is. If this happened in real life, everyone would probably be just as clueless, and the revelation of facts relevant to the matter would most likely be available only to those who will survive long enough to actually care. Based on that assumption, maybe we can expect more answers in Part III should they decide to wrap it all up in a trilogy.

But that’s the beauty of the premise. There is no monopoly of narratives here. The Abbott family is just one of the many who have survived, and if we are to take a hint from the fact that the aliens apparently couldn’t swim, then the last installment could probably segue from the individual perspective in the first movie and the communal POV in this sequel to a more global standpoint. Of the plethora of inaccessible yet inhabited islands on this planet, how is the rest of the world coping with this invasion? That’s obviously the most interesting premise to tackle next. They can even invest on Netflix spinoffs through the eyes of survivors from different parts of the globe for all I care. I will still watch it.

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