There is a scene early on in A Quiet Place Part II where audiences are first introduced to Cillian Murphy’s gruff and despairing Emmett. Once, long ago, Emmett was a neighbor and passing friend to the Abbotts, our central family of heroes in both films. Yet when he now runs into Emily Blunt’s Evelyn Abbott and her two children, Regan and Marcus (Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe), the months of hell he’s endured in the face of apocalypse have taken their toll. They’ve taken everything.
“The people that are left are not the kind of people worth saving,” Emmett glumly mutters to Evelyn, always aware his voice, even underground, must never rise above a whisper. This is often the crux of much apocalypse-inspired fiction, be it The Walking Dead or Mad Max. Yet the appeal of A Quiet Place and now its sequel is how the Abbotts never lose their humanity. Indeed, the new film is about growing up with it and coming of age without losing your hope. That message about finding optimism in the face of crisis plays even more powerfully now than when we first saw A Quiet Place Part II in March 2020—albeit even then we all knew the world was heading into its own global reckoning.
“I love what this film’s about, it’s about the kids being the future,” Blunt tells us at the last in-person press event either of us will do for a long time.“I think that is really important, and I find this a terribly human film. Yes, the creatures are awful and terrifying, but you don’t really learn that much about the creatures, you learn about the people. You see the measure of the people on the measure of the creatures… they’re there to offer a backdrop for how humanity withstands.”
And the way humanity withstands is in large part thanks to the actions of Simmonds’ Regan Abbott. Still only a teenager without the ability to hear, she is also the child who figured out how to take the fight to the creatures in the original film using the high-decibel shriek of her hearing aid. Her becoming the main hero of A Quiet Place Part II thereby felt like the natural progression to writer-director John Krasinski. Indeed, it’s the idea which lured both him and Blunt back to the franchise.
“I think John always felt this needed and should be Millie’s story,” Blunt explains. “This is her shouldering now—being passed the torch by her father. How does she keep the spirit alive?”
It’s a pressure that Simmonds was both surprised by and excited to embrace.
“It was really interesting to see how the first film influences her relationship with her family in this story,” Simmonds tells us. “It is a coming-of-age story. Regan can’t be a child anymore. She’s quickly becoming an adult.”
She also has to influence the adults around her, including the aforementioned Emmett. Played by the invaluable Murphy, who is no stranger to apocalypse movies after starring in pictures like 28 Days Later or even The Dark Knight Rises, the Irish performer was drawn to the humanity of his character and also the hopefulness of the movie he is in.
Says Murphy, “The film does sort of delicately explore those themes, I think, but these kind of things have been happening since time immemorial. How do societies react to crises? How do individuals react? Do they retreat, do you offer a hand? I think we see with my character, he starts at one place in the movie and he ends up at another place without it being heavy-handed or didactic.”
He also can only hint at the unique friendship that develops between Emmett and Regan.
“She is the hope embodied, she is really hope as a human being,” Murphy says. “And I think she changes everyone that she meets over the course of the story, including my character, including Djimon [Hounsou]’s character. It’s really her journey, and I think she does represent that hope.”
It’s a hope that brings about what Blunt describes as a renewal of society and, just perhaps, the better angels of our nature.
Says Blunt, “That’s what I adore about it. You see a fractured community, you see what is shutdown, but then you see the rebirth and the awakening. Ultimately, human beings want to feel a sense of togetherness.”
That hope for a better future, and a renewed sense of community with our fellow man plays all the more profoundly in 2021. Like Regan and her hearing aide, just maybe A Quiet Place Part II was meant to open on Friday, May 28 of this year?