FINALLY! I got “out next week” style trailers for this before the first lockdown. Buses have had the poster for this on them for so long they’re starting to fade. I’ve been waiting for the cinemas to reopen, and this film is the reason why. I should point out, because of the delay, it’s been so long since I saw the trailer, I actually can’t remember much from it. I remember how it made me feel, excited, and a little creeped out. The idea that in some ways the surviving humans would be the villains in this is strangely compelling, and it has a hint of truth to it. To survive in this world, it would have been an advantage to be a complete prick. I was really looking forward to seeing that play out in this.
But…..it doesn’t. Not really. There’s one scene where a group of people trap two of the characters, rob them, leave one of them to be killed, and will (probably judging by how they acted) rape the other one. That scene lasts I’d say about ten minutes. After that we see a community that has survived and thrived by helping each other. That lasts much longer. I suppose in some ways that’s nice, it shows a glimmer of hope for the world. But to look at it another way: this wouldn’t be the film I’d chose to watch if I was looking for something nice, that’s not what I want from this film, especially with how it was marketed.
Not my biggest issue with the film. My biggest issue is the sound. Now, I LOVE the sound design of the first one, the use of silence helped it stand out in a crowded field, and it’s a great film to watch in a full room as you can sense everybody in the audience trying their best to not make a noise. It modified viewer behaviour, and you don’t get that in this film. You don’t get that in this film for one simple reason: it uses music. Yup, over dramatic scenes, it plays suitable music, it seems like the film is scared of letting films be silent, which considering that’s what made the first film stand out, is a weird choice. It would be like making Saw II and having all the traps take place off-screen. It’s weird as it’s the same director as the first one, but it feels very different. The only major difference is that Krasinski wrote this one, whereas he only directed the first one. That explains the difference in tone of the script, but it doesn’t explain why it feels so different to watch.
Maybe it’s the age difference as well. It’s been a few years since the first film, but it’s set very soon after. Sadly it means at least one of the kids looks very different. That kid gets caught in a bear trap really early on, personally I think he should have died there. It would have taken him out of the film and done away with one of the most distracting sub-plots. It also would have made the characters feel more panicked, so add to their suffering. Plus, imagine that scene playing out. Unlike the death of the child in the first film, which was quick, this would be slow. The family would be hiding, too scared to make a noise in case they attract the aliens, they’d have no choice but to sit and watch, knowing what is going to happen but being too powerless to stop it long term. It would be an incredibly powerful scene, and would impact every decision made from then on.
So yeah, this film is kind of a disappointment. It is still a very solid piece of film-making. It still does everything it needs to. If this was a new franchise it would be a solid 8/10. But as a sequel to one of the most unique horror films of the last few years, I can’t help but feel a little cheated.