TAMPA — You are at the movies. The real movies.
There’s that smell. Popcorn with electric butter, rivers of soda, wayward Junior Mints and sweaty hands. The carpet is still ugly, prices still high.
Posters in white lights advertise things you’ve seen at home. You watched Godzilla vs. Kong from the sofa, and it was fun and easy. You almost forgot those creatures were supposed to be large.
But after a year of living small, you started to wonder: Is the couch a cop out, a twig snap versus a thunderclap? What have you been missing?
So, you’re here for A Quiet Place Part II, the sequel to a thriller that thrives in silence. It was due out in March 2020, and, well. Instead of streaming like so many others, the film’s creators held off. Now, as we limp out of a pandemic, it’s one of the first major movies released exclusively in theaters.
You’re running late tonight, but that’s how it always was. You’ve gone to the restaurant in the mall, or for ice cream, or the nearby pet store with your date. A night like this is not just about the movie. It’s a before, a during and an after.
A bored teenager points to your theater, and someone else hurries you to a seat. It’s about to start, he says, and this is the darkest theater. He’s excited, bubbling like a 32-ounce Coke.
You forgot how plush movie theaters had gotten before the pandemic. This one, AMC Veterans 24, has reclining leather chairs with armrests. You recall how theaters used to feel, sticky floors, scratchy seats, strange feet by your ears.
It’s pitch black. Then you see John Krasinski and Emily Blunt, not shrunken on a TV or crammed in a laptop. They are floor-to-ceiling giants. Transcendent. How can anyone be this big? How did we ever watch things this way? How did we ever stop?
When the evil beast bounds into frame, audio booms and clacks. The walls shake, and you’re back in your memories. You’re at Jurassic Park and Titanic and Die Hard, and you grab your date by the fingers and squeeze.
This movie is right for right now. It’s post-apocalyptic, a broken family emerging from isolation to flee a supernatural enemy. It is painfully relevant. In one scene, there’s a literal unmasking.
Our real-world threat is invisible. Here, it has claws and a gaping face, preying on those who dare make a sound. Its targets hide in basements and furnaces, dodging death from monster and man.
To survive, people must work together. You watch characters fumble, and it’s clear who they represent. The brave ones. The wise ones. The ones who fend for themselves. The ones with disdain for empathy and truth.
In the movie theater, you’re quiet together. You scream and jump together. You share snacks and whispers. You run into old friends. You stumble down aisles in the dark. You say excuse me and sorry. You struggle to find a moment to use the bathroom.
You walk out in pods, sharing opinions and questions. For once, you’re arguing about imaginary lands. You have been given 90 blissful minutes of escape, plus the gift of a new conversation.
Yeah, maybe you’re being too nostalgic. You’re forgetting the loud talkers and the crunchers and the shushers. You’re neglecting the perks of home, the pause button and the pajamas and the fridge. But that’s okay.
Because tonight, there’s magic in defeating monsters 30 feet high. In a postponed world, taking a quiet step inside feels like something very loud.
A Quiet Place Part II
Opens in theaters Friday and will be available on the Paramount+ subscription service 45 days later. This column was based on an early screening.
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