Regan (Millicent Simmonds) hopes to save the day, and the world.

The same two questions are usually asked about a sequel to a hit film: Is the new one as good as the first? Do you have to see the original in order to enjoy the follow-up?

Answers: Yes and yes.

But "A Quiet Place Part II'' requires a third question: Do you make your way to a cinema for this one or do you wait until it's available at home? There's no easy answer. COVID rules are being relaxed, and Paramount is only opening this theatrically (for now), which means if you opt for a big screen, you're likely to be in the company of a packed house of movie-starved people.

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But, aside from health concerns, there's another reason for maybe not seeing this in a crowd. Yes, horror films and comedies work best when you're watching with other viewers, and the screams and laughs spread through the room. But because of the unique sound design of the first film - and its unremitting use of silence - I was annoyed by the people around me who were crunching on popcorn and crinkling their Twizzler wrappers. I'm glad I saw this one with a very small group for both reasons.

There's still a lot of silence, and communicating via sign language in the new film, but there's also more talking and, because sound is such an integral element, and the cause of extreme danger, there's much more noise - very loud, unnerving noise.

The 2018 original, directed and co-written by and co-starring John Krasinski, told, with very little background detail, about an alien invasion of Earth, and how vicious creatures that relied on sound to hunt and kill their victims wreaked havoc. The film focused on the Abbot family - Lee (Krasinski), Evelyn (Emily Blunt), their two kids Regan and Marcus (Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe) and their infant. As does the sequel.

Fans of the original - who know what transpired - will be surprised to see Lee in the pre-opening credits scenes of this one until it's revealed that it takes place before the invasion has happened, when the initial attack - that was never seen in the first - ensues, and chaos spills through the streets.

When, post-credits, everything moves up to right after the first film ended, it's in sequel terrain, and it's just Evelyn and her kids leaving the remains of their former home, heading into the unknown, where creatures lurk and maybe other people survive.

This is a film fraught with tension and peril and violence, not all of it coming from the creatures. Things have gone badly for the human race, and some of their ways have changed, not exactly for the better. It's into this new world that the Abbot family walks, as quietly as possible. It's not long before they encounter Emmett (Cillian Murphy), an old friend who hooks up with them. But even with his help, there's plenty of trouble. Marcus is injured in an accident, Evelyn tries to find medicine to care for him, Regan - the strongest, bravest, and most confident of the bunch - takes off, with a plan in her mind, and the swinging Bobby Darin song "Beyond the Sea" leads to what will become an important plot point.

Krasinski manages to bring viewers right into the film. We're not just watching these characters, we feel like we're with them, experiencing their unbearable tension and fear. Because there's so much silence, a great deal of the film depends on its visuals - which include much better looks at the hideous creatures than the first film provided. And Krasinski is adept at getting viewers to stare at something or someone on the screen while someone or something else might be in another part of it, almost unnoticeable, waiting to catch them - characters and viewers - unaware.

There are rare moments of tranquility, as when an island is discovered that's being used as a safe haven. But other settings are rife with frightened and frightening people, and a steady supply of those ghastly creatures. This is a very violent film, but it's not exploitative. When awful things occur, they're just off-camera, or they play out so fast, you can't quite tell what happened.

With "A Quiet Place," John Krasinski came very close to making a great film. With the sequel, he nails it.

"A Quiet Place Part II" opens in theaters on May 28.

Ed Symkus can be reached at esymkus@rcn.com.

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