The first one was quite a sleeper hit. I’d not heard of John Krasinski before this even with The Office’s American version being quite popular, but after watching Part I I figured he really established himself not just as an actor but as someone who can direct genre (in this case a post-apocalyptic horror) with their own kinda voice. But despite a cliffhanger I was a bit cynical about a sequel, mainly as I thought because you don’t really learn much about the creatures in Part I their threat potential aside, it might spoil the magic. Was I right after watching Part II?
I was wrong in terms of worrying whether the mystery’s magic might be spoiled, this being despite a prologue pre-Part I (if only to help set up Cillian Murphy’s character – Emmett). Plus, after the first one’s cliffhanger it helps reestablish character dynamics.
It doesn’t feel quite as fresh as the first one though. It’s true that just having Evelyn (played by Emily Blunt, wonderful and you sorta feel on a personal level how she’s married to Krasinski!) and her children (including a newborn son) on essentially a new journey freshens things up but only just.
The above said, there’s some great cinematography layered into the world-building for one thing.(Note repeated shots of feet as they walk), and Emmett adds some welcome tension. I also liked how one of the children – Regan, portrayed by Millicent Simmonds – as a deaf character and played by a deaf actress really naturally layers in diversity. The creatures, not unlike bats, can only find you through sound after all.
All in all, if you’re looking for one of the great sequels that twists things into a fairly different direction (hello The Dark Knight!), you might be disappointed. If you fancy appreciating the evolving world-building though, and notice how the characters’ evolution are well respected in, then with good scares mixed in odds are you’ll have a whale of a time. Support cinema!