'A Quiet Place Part II' review: Prepare to have your nerves frazzled again

The film follows up on 2018's "A Quiet Place."

If you liked 2018's "A Quiet Place" -- and who didn't? -- prepare to have your nerves frazzled again in the sequel, which Paramount is releasing only in theaters so there won't be any extraneous at-home distractions. In the post-apocalyptic world of "A Quiet Place Part II," sound kills. Dare to talk above a whisper and alien uglies will spring up and end you.

The studio intended to release "Part II" in March 2020, the month that Covid started its own killing spree. Now, 14 months later, science is easing us out of our long, global nightmare. No such comfort awaits the characters in this sequel, though they have decided to exit their farmhouse and risk a peek at what's outside.

Last time out, writer-director-star John Krasinski took the central role of Lee Abbott, the devoted dad who sacrificed his life to distract the sound-chasers from munching on his missus Evelyn (Krasinski's real-life wife Emily Blunt) and their children -- the hearing-impaired Regan (Millicent Simmonds), kid brother Marcus (Noah Jupe) and their newborn brother.

Krasinski does show up in the film's riveting prologue, rewinding back 474 days to when the Abbotts didn't have to dodge death on a daily basis. At a Little League game -- the essence of normal -- Marcus steps up to bat just as a fiery object comes cannonballing out of the sky.

And that's the end of "normal." How relatable is that? As "Part II" begins, Evelyn and the fatherless Abbott kids are on the run from speedy, sharp-toothed creatures who make up for their blurred vision with ears that can pinpoint their next victim with sonar accuracy.

As a director, Krasinski raises his game for nail-biting tension that will keep you up nights. And his script digs even deeper into the dynamics of what makes a family. No one knows what's out there -- there's a hint of survivalist zombies right out of "The Walking Dead," but this family is determined to make it together.

In search of other survivors and maybe a sanctuary, the Abbotts locate Emmett (the excellent Cillian Murphy of "Peaky Blinders"), a neighbor who has set up shop under a steel mill where he mourns the loss of his own family.

Emmett resents the intrusion, but forms a bond with Regan, who uses her cochlear implant to broadcast a radio signal that makes alien heads explode or something like that. Spoilers are even more of a no-no than usual.

As with any sequel, "Part II" loses the advantage of surprise. But a shift of emphasis allows the gifted Blunt to cede the star spot to the sensational Simmonds, a deaf actress who grabs her juicy role and rides it to glory.

The momentum that Krasinski builds into the jump-out-of-your-seat narrative makes "A Quiet Place Part II" the perfect thriller to get summer audiences back into movie theaters where everything is dark and everyone can hear you scream.