Sequels are a precarious prospect, particularly when continuing the narrative of a high concept breakout hit like A Quiet Place, which was never envisioned as the start of a franchise. Aside from an opening flashback to the arrival of the creatures, A Quiet Place Part II unfolds over a handful of days after the first film’s ending. Lee’s sacrifice to save his children in A Quiet Place leaves a significant hole in the excellent family dynamic, though one of the themes is Regan and Marcus discovering that they each have their father’s strength of character. The physical void is ably filled by Cillian Murphy, with a character who is not simply a replica of Krasinski’s. Whilst the narrative may be thin, Krasinksi’s assured direction delivers a solid second outing which still effectively ratchets tension despite the creatures being a known quantity and in full view from the start. Midway through Part II, he opts to split the group up, leading to a wonderfully edited sequence that cuts rapidly between simultaneous attacks, the use of tonal similarities heightening the suspense rather than detracting from it. The sound design is once again exceptional, although there is less use of Regan’s hearing impaired perspective than one might expect when she takes off alone.
“Avoid trauma reminders? My whole work requires and is motivated by trauma reminders.”
The autobiographical nature of Honey Boy is evident even if one didn’t know Shia LaBeouf wrote the script. Noah Jupe is suitably captivating as a twelve-year-old actor in the questionable care of his recovering alcoholic father, a failed entertainer. The highlight, however, is LaBeouf on excellent form effectively playing his own father consumed by seething resentment at everyone. The film suggests an intention to forgive his father’s flaws but the portrayal is uncompromising and honest, aided by the lo-fi presentation of this independently funded film. However, intercutting the story with an older Otis in court-mandated alcohol rehab, resisting therapists’ attempts to explore his childhood, does not work. LaBeouf seems to be justifying his own erratic behaviour but — without introspection by the older Otis (or indeed LaBeouf’s script) — there is nothing for the audience to learn from his experience. As the credits roll there is less a sense of catharsis than narcissism.
“Who are we if we can’t protect them? We have to protect them.”
John Krasinski’s second feature-length directorial outing is excellent, tightly constrained, high concept survival horror with an emphasis on tone. The conceit of blind reptilian creatures with incredible hearing is perfect for film, allowing for tense sequences that do not rely on darkness masking what we can see. Some of the film’s tensest moments occur in broad daylight, although its final act still unfolds at night. The excellent sound design demands watching in a quiet environment or with headphones. We learn about the characters gradually (it is a film best experienced with as little knowledge as possible), with their depth coming from broader themes about family, grief and guilt. Like many such films, narrative holes emerge upon close inspection, but that does not detract at all from the exhaustingly atmospheric experience Krasinski has crafted.