Movie review

“A Quiet Place, Part II,” John Krasinski’s effective sequel to his 2018 horror film “A Quiet Place,” begins with a scene that’s so normal it gave this masked viewer a pang of nostalgia. A crowd has gathered in a park, on a summer afternoon, for a kids softball game; it’s a lovely, ordinary day. A title card reads “Day 1.” And suddenly, a strange dark fire appears in the sky. The monsters have arrived, and nothing will be ordinary ever again.

That scene is a prequel flashback (answering the question many of us had of how Krasinski could be in this movie, considering the fate of his character in the first “A Quiet Place”); we’re then whooshed to “Day 474,” shortly after the previous movie ended. Evelyn (Emily Blunt) and her three children — daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds), son Marcus (Noah Jupe) and an infant — are accustomed to living in ravaged silence, ever-fearful of triggering the sound-attuned alien monsters. Now they must leave their quiet haven and venture out, in search of safety among other humans, somewhere.

No, none of this makes any sense; I particularly wondered why they’re all barefoot all the time. (Are there no socks in this post-apocalyptic world? But apparently there are diapers?) But this creature feature has heart to spare, and Krasinski makes it an appealing little scarefest. Blunt, who’s married to Krasinski off-screen, is always a joy to watch; here she’s in fierce-mama mode, and you tremble for those monsters. Simmonds, whose character is deaf (her point of view, or point of hearing, provides for some elegant sound design), steps up as a fellow heroine: “I can save them,” she signs resolutely, of her family. “I can save us.”

The film’s final third cleverly cuts between three different locations and plotlines; each of them a constant cliffhanger — you watch each frantically worrying about the other two. And yes, perhaps we end up seeing a little too much of the monsters — the first movie was scarier, because what you can’t see is always more terrifying — but they’re still fun to look at, with their graceful gliding and their unnerving habit of suddenly blooming like a hideous flower. “A Quiet Place, Part II,” with its skillful jump scares and sly central premise (silence is safety, noise is fear), delivers the goods, and sent me home nervously worried that something might sneak up on me — as all scary movies should. Bring on Part III, quietly.

With Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, Cillian Murphy, Djimon Hounsou. Written and directed by Krasinski. 97 minutes. Rated PG-13 for terror, violence, and bloody/disturbing images. Opens May 28 at multiple theaters.

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