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Millicent Simmonds sees the aliens claim another victim in "A Quiet Place Part II."

I learned some things while watching A Quiet Place Part II: The farm that the Abbott family lives on is in the Appalachian Ridge in southeastern New York state. Regan (Millicent Simmonds) can read lips and also has limited ability to speak. The aliens can’t swim. Marcus (Noah Jupe) tends to panic in bad situations, which is not ideal because his whole life is a bad situation right now. I no longer feel silly using the characters’ names, since those names are spoken aloud in this sequel. John Krasinski’s command of suspense has grown sharper yet. This is a worthy successor to the horror hit.

The film begins with a pre-credit sequence that flashes back to the day the town of Millbrook is hit by the alien invasion and cleverly ties it to the very end of the original film. Soon after, the remaining Abbotts have to abandon their farm when their barn/shelter/storehouse burns down. They make their way to the nearest signal fire, which is tended by Emmett (Cillian Murphy), a friend of the family’s who’s now a broken-down lone survivalist. While there, Marcus hears Emmett’s radio playing “Beyond the Sea,” a sign of civilization. Regan determines that the signal is coming from an island off the coast, and with both Marcus and her mother (Emily Blunt) seriously injured, she sets out on her own toward it, taking the family’s shotgun and the audio equipment needed so she can kill the aliens.

The casting of Murphy here is canny — we remember first seeing him starring in 28 Days Later. Here he’s playing a survivor of the apocalypse who’s haunted by it, and by the loss of his family in the invasion. Maybe his character’s redemptive storyline is a little too clean, but this Irish actor brings heft and grandeur to the role. Dallas native Scoot McNairy also makes an unrecognizable and terrifying appearance as the stringy-haired, silent leader of a pack of rapist-cannibals. Maybe most impressive is Simmonds, as Regan comes to realize that her deafness is a weapon against this enemy rather than a weakness. That’s the story arc tying together the two movies, and it’s powerful enough.

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For his part, the director delivers on a couple of bravura sequences, one that aforementioned pre-credit flashback and another one a complicated exercise in intercutting, as we toggle between Regan and Emmett facing down those feral people on a pier while, miles away, Marcus tries to protect his newborn baby brother by locking them in a blast furnace while an alien prowls outside. Krasinski repeats the trick at the end of the movie, and it loses effectiveness then. Nevertheless, A Quiet Place Part II continues its predecessor’s legacy of building suspense and character with a minimum of dialogue.

A Quiet Place Part II
Starring Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, and Cillian Murphy. Written and directed by John Krasinski. Rated PG-13.

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