**Warning: the following contains spoilers from 2018’s A Quiet Place.**
If actor, director and writer John Krasinski had known there was going to be a sequel to his 2018 blockbuster A Quiet Place, he may have done things a little differently — such as not killing himself off.
“The story was never designed to be a franchise,” he has said.
And yet, there was still so much of the world, and the dynamics of the Abbotts within it, to explore. In the first film, the family, played by Krasinksi and his real-life wife Emily Blunt along with Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe, are tasked with surviving in silence as strange monsters dominate their hometown — killing anything they can hear.
If you saw the first film, you’ll be well aware of the clever use of emotion, suspense and, of course, sound design, that had audiences screaming one minute and sobbing the next.
As Krasinski has said before, the original film was all about the promises that parents make to their children about always protecting them, and what the consequences are when those promises are inevitably broken.
In A Quiet Place II, the Abbotts are back — without their beloved patriarch — and must leave the relative safety of their home in order to ensure their ongoing survival and, just maybe, defeat these monsters once and for all.
This premise presented Krasinski with the perfect opportunity to see Simmonds, who has garnered much praise for her portrayal of Regan, step into a leading role while he focused on directing.
“I was thrilled to come back to this world,” Simmonds said in an interview with The Latch. “I was overwhelmed at first stepping into the lead role but hearing first hand from John what his vision was and how excited he was, I knew I was in after the first five minutes.
“I definitely felt that void of not acting with John but I think he had more pressure on the second one and was able to focus more on directing. He’s brilliant in front of and behind the camera.”
Simmonds’ admiration for Krasinksi is very much reciprocal, with the former star of The Office praising both Simmonds and her co-star Jupe, for the depth of both their performance and personalities at a Q&A held after an Australian screening of the film.
“Regan’s arc and her stepping into her father’s role was really poignant for me,” Simmonds told The Latch. “I’m inspired by Regan and her determination to do the right thing. She’s inspired me.
“I think filming the second one gave me the confidence to really step into that role. I was not about to let John down. If he had the confidence in me to do it, I was going to do it.”
Audiences will no doubt be even more impressed by Simmonds’ performance in the sequel than they were in the first, with the young actress stealing every scene she is in. Her arc is made all the more intense by the fact that Regan, like Simmonds herself, is deaf. It’s the type of representation Simmonds has made herself a fierce advocate for and something she feels especially proud of when it comes to her own career.
“I think we’ve made huge progress just in the last few years,” she said. “I grew up not seeing anyone like me on screen or on film. This year alone there are three big blockbusters that feature Deaf characters. We’re going in the right direction. I would love to see more stories come from people in the Deaf community or in the disabled community in general.”
The actress, who recently graduated high school, says that she receives inspiration to keep acting every day from people who connect with her work.
“My favourite messages are from parents saying how appreciative they are that their Deaf child can see someone on screen like them,” she revealed. “More specifically, a character that saves the world instead of having to be saved. I love it. It makes everything I’m doing worth it. I don’t want to stop.”
Indeed, Regan rises to the occasion in A Quiet Place II, taking it upon herself to attempt to vanquish the monsters that have destroyed her world. As noted by producer Brad Fuller, “Millie really stepped up to the challenge. She brings Regan to a place where she is a hero, but a very human one.”
Meanwhile, by her side is a new father figure of sorts, in the form of Peaky Blinders star Cillian Murphy, who plays a grieving husband and father named Emmett. The pair’s unlikely bond, and frequent difficulties in communicating, make their scenes together all the more compelling and suspenseful.
“Cillian is extremely down to earth and very easy to get along with,” said Simmonds. “We had very similar approaches to acting and would talk about the books we were reading.
“He’s very genuine and really wanted to understand his character. He was really invested in telling the story. I think we got along really well. Our scenes together are my favourite.”
In opening up more of the world — or what’s left of it — that the Abbott family inhabit, the plot is able to explore in greater depth the elements of humanity that made the first film such a hit. This is a family that has now lost two members and has a tiny new one to protect and the determination to not only survive but thrive affects each of them differently and deeply. It’s this raw emotion, coupled with the completely unnerving prospect of life beyond the Abbott house, that makes the follow-up pack an even greater punch than the first.
“I didn’t think it was possible to make something scarier than the original but I felt that when I saw it,” said Simmonds.
“I knew everything that was happening and I still felt so tense. From the very beginning, it just doesn’t let up.”
It has been said that one of the reasons people love scary movies so much is because they allow us to theorise about how we might cope when faced with a life-threatening situation. Certainly, for many of us, the idea of having to live in complete silence lest we be ripped to shreds by a murderous creature is one that begs the question: “How long would I survive?”.
According to Krasinski, his wife would last as long as was necessary, while he would perish immediately.
As for Simmonds?
“I would be the first to go,” she confessed.
“I’m such a klutz. I’d knock something off a table and that would be it.”