Acting, music, cinematography all excellent in ‘Quiet Place Part II’

I guess it’s fitting that a film with “place” in its title proves the famous real-estate mantra “Location, location, location!”

“A Quiet Place Part II,” long-delayed sequel to the 2018 horror hit, features one visually arresting locale after another — from abandoned railcars and tunnels to sunset beaches, crumbling factories, sprawling bridges and spooky, spot-lit nighttime marinas.

But that’s only one factor that makes this follow-up even better than its predecessor.

“Part II” manages to be both a prequel and a sequel, opening with back-story on the invasion of earth by rapacious aliens that are blind but have extraordinary hearing. Among other things, this intro allows a reappearance from “Part I” star John Krasinski, playing paterfamilias of a small clan that’s particularly apt at silent survival — since their oldest child is deaf.

After this effective overture, “II” moves ahead to where “I” left off, with Mom, newborn and two teens fleeing their farm after capitalizing on Dad’s colossal discovery: The daughter’s hearing-aid can be tweaked to give off feedback so revolting that it renders the sound-sensitive species helpless.

Director Krasinski — who also helmed the first film — gets top-notch work from Emily Blunt (to whom he is actually married in real life), along with Millicent Simmonds as the deaf daughter and a dynamite Noah Jupe as the middle child. Cillian Murphy and Djimon Hounsou are likewise excellent in supporting roles.

And Marco Beltrami’s score is scary!

Krasinski co-wrote Part I — but this second script is entirely his, and it’s a doozy. During one frightening mid-film scene, he splits up the five main characters so they are in four different places at once, and all in big trouble. The film’s terrific climax re-uses this device with strong triple plotting — and through it all, the editing is masterful. While fomenting loads of squirm-inducing terror, the cross-cutting also stresses parallels between the characters and what they are doing to fight the beasties.

Yet for all its fierce suspense — some of which involves dwindling air-supply in a sealed environment! — “Quiet Place II” never feels like it’s trying too hard. As in the first film, Krasinski’s direction is incredibly assured, and he never resorts to undue violence for his frights.

I should add that he is not beyond a nicely executed jump-scare, though even these never feel cheap as in so much other contemporary horror.

Instead, they feel earned — by a thriller crafted with exceptional care on every level.

“Quiet Place II” is the first film in months to be released only in theaters; if there’s any justice in the world of cinema, this should be the one that brings people back to the movies.

And ain’t it about time.


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