A Quiet Place Part II – A visceral sensory experience and exhilarating emotional journey

In 2018, John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place turned silence into the building blocks of fright and forged from the horror-thriller genre a modern fable of family love, communication and survival. Now, comes the story’s unnerving second chapter, A Quiet Place Part II, directed, written and produced by Krasinski, based on characters created by Bryan Woods & Scott Beck.

With its mix of relentless tension and layered storytelling about a tight-knit clan fending off an immensely destructive, soundattuned alien force, A Quiet Place became a startling hit and cultural phenomenon. Following the deadly events at home, the Abbott family (Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe) 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 the fragile sanctuary of the “sand path” the Abbotts created in order to prevail in a reality where even a single footstep could be deadly—and into a world of infinite peril beyond.

From the opening moments of the film, the family is on the run, beyond any semblance of security and searching for refuge in a town gone mad with fear. In a time when empathy and connection have nearly vanished from the world, the Abbotts strive not only to protect each other from the threat of sound but to find hope in the terrifying hush around them.

“After the incredible reception for the first film, we all felt that we didn’t want to just do a sequel for the sake of chasing the success of the original,” explains producer Brad Fuller. “John comes from a place of such deeply rooted artistic integrity so we knew we couldn’t do another film unless he was involved and we knew he wouldn’t get involved unless he strongly resonated with the material. His brain is like a strange combination lock and when it clicks, it really clicks, and that’s what happened with this idea.”

The idea that the Abbotts might continue their journey into the vast, unexplored territory beyond their home came as a surprise even to Krasinski. He never imagined he would be in the position to contemplate a sequel when he began working on A Quiet Place, not knowing it would touch such a deep nerve in the culture. He’s also no fan of half-hearted follow-ups. Yet, when Krasinski had an idea he felt could truly push the storytelling—an idea true to the original film’s characters and conception, yet also full of fresh creative challenges—he was lit with the same passion for it as the first time around.

“Initially, I had no intention of doing a sequel to the film,” Krasinski says. “The story was never designed to be a franchise. But the power of the world we created became the draw to delve into it further, to see where it might lead the Abbotts as a family.”

The most important thing to Krasinski was that if he were to extend the story, A Quiet Place Part II had to be, like its predecessor, more than a visceral sensory experience. It had to also drive the family’s emotional journey forward—this time, towards both independence and community.

“After the success of A Quiet Place, I knew there would be interest in another one, but I wanted no part of something that had the wrong intentions or didn’t feel organic. So, I was OK with another writer and director taking over. And yet, I had the beginnings of an idea in my head,” Krasinski recalls.

“The idea was about extending the metaphor of parenthood to see how far you could take it, exploring that natural evolution that happens when your kids leave the safety of home to go out into the world.”

“The first film was a very intimate story about a family living on a farm in this world. You witness that there are creatures out there, but you really don’t know what’s going on around the world. We wanted to open it up a bit more,” adds producer Andrew Form.

As he had originally, Krasinski let his thirst to explore the unknown take the lead. That meant imagining all that might lie beyond the cocoon of quiet the Abbotts managed to craft for their family. Where would they go, and what would they find out there and within themselves, if they had no choice but to venture beyond the security of the sand path?

Krasinski decided to start the second chapter quite literally mere seconds after the first movie ends, echoing the classic structure of a serial cliffhanger. Almost immediately, the Abbotts, still reeling from the loss of father and husband Lee, are forced to do the unthinkable: go on the move.

They continue to face the same nerve-shredding need to remain absolutely quiet or perish, but there is also an onslaught of harrowing, unforeseen new hazards that will test each family member and their bonds.

“The part that I flipped for was that John wanted to literally pick up the action five seconds after Evelyn has cocked the shotgun in the basement,” states producer Andrew Form. “That felt like an unbelievable way to continue this story. You have a mom, a tiny baby and two children–and for the first time they have to leave this protective world that Lee created to keep his family safe.”

“There’s so much more to experience beyond the farm,” note Krasinski. “But even though we’re greatly expanding the world and the scale of the story, the intimacy comes from the fact that the rules remain the same. It was very creatively exciting for us to have this chance to create much bigger set pieces that still feel true to the story and to the Abbott family’s inner experiences.”

Setting the Abbotts adrift from their routines into a land overtaken by chaos meant pulling the rug out from under what was already the most treacherous of situations. But that in turn would only further lay bare the core beauty of families: their resilience even in the face of the gravest doubts.

“If you don’t have the safety devices of the sand path and the lights, everything is even more unpredictable,” describes Krasinski. “Each step you take is uncertain. Scares can come from anywhere. When you don’t know how you’re going to survive the next moment, you’re likely to make a mistake. And when you make a mistake, our infamous creatures are around a lot more than you thought.”

Writer-director John Krasinski with Emily Blunt during filming of A Quiet Place: Part II

Beyond The Sand Path

The beating heart behind the ever-accelerating tension of A Quiet Place Part II remains the same ordinary human experience that inspired Krasinski initially: family life—and its constant reckoning with anxiety, vulnerability, communication and the urge to hold your loved ones close.

But whereas the first film had been largely sparked by Krasinski’s apprehensions about being a new father, this time Krasinski ponders what is perhaps parenthood’s most dizzying transition: the unavoidable fear of watching your children venture out into a dangerous, often divided world where anything can happen and other people’s motives can be indecipherable.

“I had this thought percolating in my head about the promise you make as parents to kids that as long as you’re with me I can keep you safe,” says Krasinski.

“It’s a promise every parent makes; but sadly, it has to inevitably be broken at some point when parents have to let their kids go out into the world on their own. That’s what growing up is all about and that was the central metaphor I wanted to explore. This family’s father is gone, and they’ve come to the end of the safety net of the sand path. So, what happens when you have to take your first steps into that great unknown?”

Krasinski continues: “We all hope we’ve prepared our kids so well for life that they’ll be able to survive. But you also hope for so much more than that—you hope your kids will be able to become something special, and that they will find community with others, ideas that were also on my mind.”

Much like the first film, Krasinski began bouncing his early concepts off his wife, the acclaimed star of A Quiet Place, Emily Blunt, who garnered a Screen Actors Guild Award among other accolades for her searing performance as Evelyn Abbott.

And though Blunt was admittedly skeptical about a sequel, she couldn’t help but become smitten with where things were going.

“Emily wasn’t necessarily going be a part of the second one,” Krasinski reveals. “She had said, ‘You’re not doing this one with me so don’t try to pitch me,’ but then she asked, ‘Well, what’s your idea?’ And after I told her, she said, ‘I’ll definitely be doing the second one!’ It just felt so organic to us both.”

Recalls Blunt, “It was such a lights-out idea that it spoke for itself. Gradually, John and I realized that sequel aside, we both just really wanted to explore this concept. If A Quiet Place represented a magnified version of what a lot of new parents feel, this story explores just how far you might go to protect your children as they head into the world. It gets deep into our anxieties about releasing our children into a life that can seem scary and daunting.”

Both Krasinski and Blunt felt the weight of wanting to live up to audiences’ expectations for this this world that they had so taken to heart. That was a big change from the first film which was created in a vacuum, with no guarantees the high-risk concept would even work.

“The audience’s response to the first movie was so overwhelming to us,” Krasinski reflects. “I had never done something so personal to me before, and to have people really pick up on all the family stuff while enjoying the trip was so rewarding. But that meant that this time, every single step of the way I was thinking of the audience. It’s not that I was going to be swayed to compromise anything for the viewers. It’s more that I felt beholden to make a movie that deserved the level of respect they had already given to us. I really wanted this movie to say to our audience thank you for going along with us on this intimate journey, and now we’ll continue that journey for you.”

Adds Blunt: “We never anticipated the meteoric life the film took on. But now we saw that the audience really wanted to know more about what happens next to this family.”

Krasinski admits he always wondered what and who was out there beyond the perimeter of the Abbott’s farm. “I always knew that by putting the sight of fires in the distance in A Quiet Place, I was hinting that there were other survivors. But I never thought I’d get the opportunity to explore who they were and build out this world. Then, once I started, it all seemed to fall into place organically.”

A big consideration was that the Abbott family in Part II have been left shattered by the sudden loss of Lee, played by Krasinski. Of all the things that must be left unspoken in this time of silence, grief becomes one of the most powerful elements, a current running underneath the family’s search for true shelter and sustenance.

“Losing a main character at the conclusion of the first film was a really interesting way to begin the second,” observes Krasinski. “I thought a lot about how to approach the influence Lee Abbott still has on the family. At the same time, it was clear the Abbotts will get no time to process their loss. They have to act first and contemplate later. To me, that felt very close to the truth of certain real-life situations. During my personal experiences with the military, guys always said that in the middle of the action you rarely think about things like your family. It’s only when those moments of silence finally come, when you get a respite from the madness, that you finally that all your fears and losses start to hit you. So, there is little time or space for sorrow for the Abbotts, and yet I wanted each of the characters to subtly, in flashes, be dealing with Lee’s passing in their own ways.”

While Lee’s memory keeps the Abbotts anchored to the past, they are also moving forward into another new concept that comes into play in A Quiet Place Part II: that of community. It’s something that has been on Krasinski’s made a lot lately and it seemed to weave innately into the storyline.

“The idea of how you deal with a fractured community became a huge theme in this,” Krasinski says. “When times go dire and dark as they are the Abbotts’ world, often the desire to interact with other people goes out the window and relationships become fear based. But I think the Abbotts have an advantage in that they’ve focused for so long on maintaining feelings of love, safety and support. In any challenging time, there is going to be a temptation to be purely individualistic and selfish, but the Abbotts are still trying to resist that.”

The quest for community also deeply intrigued Blunt. “It’s something perhaps a lot of us around the world are thinking about right now—can you still extend your hand to your neighbor when you’re in the midst of a harrowing environment?” she asks.

With the story turning from an insular family trapped on their farm into a more sweeping search for both a way out and forward, the uncompromising aspirations of Krasinski’s script exhilarated the same filmmaking team that brought the first film to fruition. “We all loved the idea that all bets are off for the family once they leave the house,” says executive producer Allyson Seeger. “The Abbotts must go out in the world with a baby in a box and one oxygen tank and learn to survive.” One of the things that had most gratified the filmmakers when A Quiet Place hit theatres, was the degree to which audiences immersed themselves into the Abbott family’s dilemmas, asking “what would I do?” “That’s part of why the movie took off, because audiences became active participants,” proposes Fuller.

“I heard stories about how if someone sneezed in the audience, people would freak out. It was a collective, heightened experience, and that is the way we all wanted it to continue.”

Cillian Murphy and Djimon Hounsou in A Quiet Place Part II

The Abbotts On The Move

From the adrenaline-surging opening moments of A Quiet Place Part II, there is never any time for the Abbott family to take stock of all that has happened to them in the preceding days. This is especially true for Emily Blunt’s Evelyn, now a solo parent determined to overcome stultifying odds to find a new place to keep her children safe, while the creatures grow more fearsome at every turn.

Krasinski describes how he approached the character the second time around. “One of my favorite things about A Quiet Place was this dichotomy of surviving versus thriving,” explains the writer-director. “Lee was content with just surviving; for him, it was all about putting your kids to bed each night, satisfied that they’re out of harm’s way. But for Evelyn, it was never enough to just survive. She wanted her family to thrive and her kids to be able to lead rich, full and colorful lives.”

Krasinski continues, “Now Evelyn has to contend with the upending reality that her desire to thrive may have put her husband in dire danger. She is also in the position of having to become the family’s main protector, which means she can’t be as open to the world as she wants to be, and she has to wrestle with that.”

The chance to take this beloved character to the extreme, with her back completely against the wall, is what most called to Blunt. “Evelyn has never been so exposed,” she notes. “She is now a single mom with a newborn baby, her house has been destroyed and there is nowhere safe to turn. The family can’t go underground, and they only have one oxygen tank left for the baby, while she also has two other children to protect. She’s lonely, vulnerable, grief-stricken and it’s the most intense emotional state you can imagine.”

Perhaps even more than the toll of near-constant physical danger, Evelyn has to wrestle with trusting that she has prepared her kids well enough to take on the world on their own terms, no matter what happens. “There’s a very powerful undercurrent in this film about how one generation tries to give their best to the next, and you see that in how the Abbott kids forge ahead into this new world with all they’ve learned from Lee and Evelyn,” says Blunt. “They have to grow up fast and take charge before they might have otherwise.”

For Blunt, the key to the performance was diving into the turmoil, while also exploring where Evelyn finds those tiny shreds of hope to which she clings tenaciously. “This was the most daunting experience I’ve had emotionally on a film,” she admits, “because there just isn’t any respite for Evelyn. Every moment feels critical and urgent, and it doesn’t stop. Yet, Evelyn’s nature is to be a very optimistic person. So, what really interested me as an actor is the way that optimism stays alive when it is put to the ultimate test.”

With Lee gone and Evelyn frantic just to escape with her children, it is young Regan who is thrust into the forefront of trying to find a larger solution, only to have to venture out on her own and take on an epic amount of responsibility. Returning to the role is Millicent Simmonds, the deaf teen who won critical praise for her mesmerizing portrait of Regan in the first film. Krasinski was thrilled to have her back—and especially excited to give her the opportunity to go even further.

Regan’s brother Marcus is also in a state of shock, and terrified of the family being separated. Revisiting the role is 14-year-old Noah Jupe, who was recently seen in Honey Boy. Jupe says he went into A Quiet Place Part II ready for an even more heightened experience than the first one. “So much goes on in this chapter,” he says. “And because it starts straight after the first part of the story, you realize the family hasn’t even had any time to sit down and think about the fact that their dad’s gone. They have no choice but to try to push all emotions aside for as long as they can, even though they are very much there.”

The Evolving Creatures

Just as the world is expanded in A Quiet Place Part II so too is the audience’s experience with the terrifying creatures that are driven into a rage by the most unthinking of human sounds. Because in this chapter there are more creatures seen in more environments, including broad daylight, Krasinski had to imagine the creatures’ very primal inner workings even further. That meant thinking about how they might be learning from humans, and in the process, becoming even more potent and inescapable.

“We all grew up seeing alien movies where intelligent life makes a conscious decision to take over the earth from humanity. But I haven’t seen many films before where an alien life-form is more of a parasite that just happens to be perfectly evolved to wipe out human beings,” notes Krasinski.

“In the first film, the creatures are just sort of running around and attacking anything that’s making sound. But like any form of life, they evolve, and they’ve been learning. And now, they have realized that the quieter they are, the more they’ll be able to track the humans. So, they make a lot less noise now, which makes them that much more dangerous.”

For Krasinski, there was a thrill in returning to familiar ground with the Abbott family to whom he always felt so close, but an even bigger thrill in shaking their already topsy-turvy world up and pushing them to the next edge… watching the characters rise to the occasion.

“The first film was just a small slice of what’s possible in this world,” concludes Krasinski. “This chapter has everything you loved about the first one, but every step that Evelyn and her children take is new to them, new to us, and that much more treacherous. The Abbotts have lost all their tricks for staying alive that were at the center of the first story, and for the first time since this started, they have to rely on others. It’s an even scarier time in their lives, but it’s an exhilarating journey.”