A Quiet Place Part II: An Allegory for our Endurance
Updated: Jan 17, 2022
Spoiler warning--read at your own discretion.
We thought it would be over by now. You know, the whole Covid-19 thing. Many organizations promised two weeks of shut-downs and restrictions when it first hit hard. But gradually it turned into six weeks, then six months, then a year. Now there seems to be no end in sight. Even with lifted restrictions, people are hurt mentally and emotionally.
Every generation has a great calamity to overcome. Our ancestors faced a great depression, world wars, and persecution just to name a few. And much of their entertainment reflects the ideals and emotional challenges of those times.
Our entertainment does too.
Walking into the movie theatre to see A Quiet Place Part II (2021) I hoped for an escape. Instead of an escape, I found a much-needed therapeutic experience.
After the event of 2020, this film hit just the right pressure points. Although exaggerated, there are parallels between our world and this imaginary post-apocalyptic one. We are in the mists of our continued fight against an invasive species--Covid-19. The characters in A Quiet Place Part II also continue their fight against their invasive species--carnivorous/sonic sensitive aliens that invaded Earth (of which intentionally or unintentionally symbolize Covid-19).
Just like in our real world, the invasive species is not the only threat; the humans left behind can be just as dangerous. In A Quiet Place Part II, there are pockets of humans who’ve forsaken their humanity and taken up the brutal “kill or be killed” ideology. Witnessing the aftermath of Covid-19 and following our news, such an ideology is not unlike the ideology of those who’ve chosen unethical practices to survive in the wake of outbreaks and shut-downs.
While A Quiet Place (2018) primarily focuses on a father reconnecting with his family, A Quiet Place Part II (2021) zeros down to answer the big question: How about afterward?
For the film this means 1) How does a family rebuild after losing their home and an essential father figure? 2) How does a family support the survival of a newborn in this apocalyptic world? 3) Is the continued fight worth it?
For many, these are the same or similar questions we face within the losses in our real-life pandemic. Shut-downs have left many families destitute and in search of rebuilding. Covid-19 deaths have left families losing loved ones who were essential to their lives. Bringing life into this pandemic world is a challenge. Personally, I had a dear friend who gave birth within a month of the outbreak. The restrictions and overloaded hospitals turned her experience in over itself and required a special kind of grit to endure. This is the kind of grit this film puts at the forefront, showing the audience what it takes to endure to the end.
The themes of grit and endurance are emphasized throughout the movie. Our main protagonist, Regan Abbot, sets out to save the world against all odds, even against her own mother who is struggling with the loss of her recently deceased husband. While the craven younger brother Marcus Abbot takes the better part of the film to find his courage, just in time to save his mother and newborn sister.
Newfound ally Emmet--albeit the reluctant hero trope character--gives us a lesson in why enduring is worth it, even when there is no end in sight. He undergoes an incredible amount of character development and is probably the most relatable character in the film. He introduces us to the nihilistic view many of us woebegone humans would take when thrown into such a situation. But his worldview is challenged when mama Abbot begs for his help (can’t say she plays fair when she pulls out the ‘you were my dead husband’s friend’ card). His paradigm shift gradually happens thanks to Regan, whose stubborn grit pushes him to choose the right thing despite his current reservations.
Now for a couple of things that stood out to me unrelated to our main topic of endurance.
The main aspect that sets this film apart from its predecessor is the dialogue. The first film is well known for its absence of dialogue except for a few select lines here and there. Its sequel is not quite the same breed. Also relying on body language like its predecessor for non-speaking sequences, there is significantly more worldbuilding than the first film. To fit that amount of worldbuilding without sacrificing time requires dialogue for bouts of exposition, else the rest of the film would suffer in pacing. Although I enjoy the style of no dialogue in the first film, I enjoyed that the dialogue set this one apart. It answered many of my questions without taking away from the style or pacing.
The second aspect is supermom. Yes, I am calling the character Evelyn Abbot supermom from now on. She must have some kind of superpower to explain her survival abilities in this film. It’s been 2-3 years since the first film for the audience--but it’s only been a couple of hours for the characters. Yes, only a couple of hours since giving a home birth with no pain killers and having her loving husband brutally killed, leaving her alone to care for her family. Supermom is shooting shotguns, nursing a newborn, running from aliens, all the while keeping two adolescent kids from going completely awol (to be honest, one did go awol, so yeah…). I know that every woman’s experience with post-pregnancy is different, but having two children myself, I got to say, I find supermom hard to believe. I almost didn’t let it go. But for the sake of enjoying the film, I had to as to not overshadow all the other amazing things it had to offer.
Overall, if you are a fan of the first film I highly recommend this one. It is a good ending for both films, yet has potential for more sequels if warranted. Definitely adding this one to my suspense/horror film collection.
Thanks for reading. As always--enjoy life!