What They Say:
Following the deadly events at home, the Abbott family must now face the terrors of the outside world as they continue their fight for survival in silence. Forced to venture into the unknown, they quickly realize that the creatures that hunt by sound are not the only threats that lurk beyond the sand path.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the runaway success of the first film back in 2018 where it did $350 million on its $22 million budget, it was no surprise that a second film moved forward, albeit with some expected minor casting changes. It was filmed during the summer of 2019 and had a brief premiere just before the pandemic hit, causing it to be pushed back until it arrived at the end of May 2021 where it was one of the first films to help get theaters back on their feet and to bring people back to the theatrical experience. I’m not exactly keen on getting back into the theaters and with the changes to theatrical structure right now, the fact that Paramount brought this film to their streaming service in mid-July means I just need a little patience and I’ll see everything I want to see with the services I’m already paying for.
This film is once again written and directed by John Krasinski and while I do think it ends their story, this is a world ripe for doing more exploration of – which is why I’m glad there isn’t a sequel but a side story film being put together. The film couldn’t replicate what the first did because so much of the world was still shut down theatrically at the time it did come out, but it still managed to get $281 million and that means there is more to really find out about here. Krasinski does the deed with the script here by bringing his character back for the opening sequence as it takes place in the time just as the first arrival of the creatures happens. It gives us that fairytale smalltown feeling with a baseball game and all until the explosion in the sky crawls along and everyone starts making their move to get home and find out what’s happening. It has a good feeling here as we see the herd nature of humanity when danger is afoot and it plays out in small ways through the buildings as the first attacks occur. It may just be a way to bring Krasinski in as more than just writer/director, but it also served as a good bridge to remind us of the key family aspect of the first film.
That film has now made it so that Evelyn is intent on connecting with other people and finding a better path forward, though she hasn’t quite realized the extent that her deaf daughter Regan is intent on using what they learned to help a lot of people. It’s not a huge journey film, which it could have been, as they end up only getting so far to the valley nearby before ending up with Emmett, as played by Cillian Murphy here. The only reason they end up like this is because Marcus got caught in a trap that had been laid out and Emmett opts to give them a day or two to recover before sending them on their way. He’s lost enough himself and isn’t intent on losing more, or himself, for anyone else at this point. With it being only a couple of months since losing his wife, and since the first day losing his own kids, he’s a shell of a man at this point that has found an ideal place to live quietly.
With the original film, I’m still of mind that it was very much an ensemble film, though one that was really focused heavily on the parents and Regan. With two of the kids removed from the equation and one of the parents, it’s more about the unit that’s left and it gets spread out a bit more. But even then, it’s really about Regan more than anyone else and Millicent Simmonds delivers expertly here. Evelyn is the protective mother to be sure and she has some great moments interacting with Emmett as well as her family, and some time fighting alone as a real badass that learns more about the creatures weaknesses, but Marcus has a really good bit of growth here as well after suffering some really painful reality. But Regan, who ends up paired with Emmett for a good chunk of this, it serves to move things forward well.
I did like the way that folks figured out how to push back against the creatures in the first film and that it would take time because everyone was so overwhelmed and so many killed so quickly that trying to figure it out wouldn’t be easy or widespread. They try to have it a little more both ways here as it was also discovered that the creatures don’t like water, which makes sense considering their complicated aural structure that we get some close-up views of here. This provides a new out here to figure things out and it’s explored in an interesting way that really eats at Emmett, understandably so. But they also try to make it clear that the national guard figured it out early on, but it wasn’t just the creatures that were the problem, but people as well the overwhelmed and just made a bad situation even worse. It’s easy to go to the real evil being humanity and I had hoped that this series wouldn’t lean into that too heavily.
I’m not huge into this particular genre of film, I’m the type that kind of has to watch it during the day or in a brightly lit room, not a theater, but I definitely liked the creativity of the first film and that it was extended here in some neat ways. You can see that the concept is fraying around the edges in trying to extend it, which is why I’d rather see more stories told about this year in different places and situations than for it to keep moving forward. The cast here does a fantastic job and it managed in losing its leading actor in Krasinski well with everyone stepping up even more to deal with what’s being asked of the characters. The special effects are a lot of fun, the opening action sequence is really enjoyable, and I just enjoyed the concept overall. But all props go to Simmonds for probably the most compelling performance in the film, which is saying a log going along the likes of Blunt and Murphy.
Streamed By: Paramount+