Review - 'A Quiet Place'
The time: 8:50 p.m. The place: Alamo Drafthouse. The entire theater is gasping as the monstrous dark angel closes on Emily Blunt but suddenly there’s a giggle, followed by laughter. What idiot would be laughing during such a tense scene? Well...that idiot was me and the movie whose scene I laughed at, causing my partner to elbow me in the rib and a lady down the row from me to give me the stink eye, is A Quiet Place. A welcome surprise from second time (?) director John Krasinski and starring himself and Emily Blunt, A Quiet Place is an engaging and thrilling monster movie to see with a crowd, just probably not with me. Though I swear I was laughing because I was enjoying the heck out of it!
I want to keep spoilers to a minimum so the best way I could summarize this film is what if the sound-hunting graboids from Tremors now lived above ground, took over the world, and a year following the apocalypse, John Krasinski and Emily Blunt protect their family by making as little sound as possible by way of using sign language, which they learned from having a deaf daughter, and other everyday things constructed in ways to mute any noise louder than a thud. Throw in some angsty daughter-father dynamics, a coming-of-age son, a pregnant mother, and you’ve got A Quiet Place.
Well, I got to talk about the sound first because that’s what this entire film is built upon. Without it, the film wouldn’t be as good as it is, for how little there is of it, I suppose. Every sound is accentuated whether it be a whisper or a footstep and when something loud happens, it. Is. Loud. Scenes like a lantern breaking or a toy going off is enough to put you on the edge of your seat as the creatures in the film have such acute hearing they can locate any noise from miles away and can traverse the plain in a matter of seconds to brutally murder the source. Except they can’t hear heartbeats, breathing, or bare footsteps? There are some nit picky gripes but you gotta take liberties to immerse yourself in a world like this. Honestly, I can’t remember the score for the life of me but that might be because of how little it was used since ambient sound was the main star of the soundtrack.
Never would have I expected Jim from the Office to be the star of a horror movie let alone star next to real life wife Emily Blunt, an arguably bigger star, let alone direct said horror movie. Like Jordan Peele surprised the world with Get Out, a year laterJohn Krasinski has surprised everyone with A Quiet Place and I don’t think it would have held together as tightly if it weren’t for the strong family bonds throughout the film. Krasinski and Emily Blunt’s chemistry as Evelyn and Lee Abbot is unbelievably palpable where you can’t wait for them to team up in other films down the line. The Abbots’ two children, Regan and Marcus, played by Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe, are very good in their roles and they mesh really well with Blunt and Krasinski. Their character arcs are unfortunately a little hollow with Marcus learning to be the guardian of the family in the event his father can’t be and Regan moping about Marcus being chosen over her along with carrying a lingering self-hatred. I would have liked more time for them to develop but the events in the film are so fast paced that Regan’s guilt over a past event in their lives lingers so dramatically where I was getting upset each time she made a brash and selfish decision when certain death lurks around every corner.
The direction is really well done with some very intense moments and standout acting from the whole cast, Emily Blunt especially. Every scene she’s in dire trouble is excruciating to watch as she’s battling not only to save herself but her unborn child. Krasinski himself is no slouch and acts as serious as burly dads come. The two kids are entertaining in their own right and Millicent Simmonds, who is deaf in real life, is so good even though I really disliked her character. Krasinski also does a really good job at making the monsters feel as omnipresent as the shark in Jaws.
The monsters are well designed after you get a close up towards the latter parts of the film. They’re an amalgamation of most other hollywood monsters you’ve seen like the Cloverfield monster and even the demogorgon from Stranger Things. That might be my only other gripe of the film as I feel like I’ve already seen monsters very similar to this one when I was hoping for something wholly new and terrifying. On the upside, I’m just so damn happy to have a monster movie instead of yet another exorcism film.
I think what I liked most about A Quiet Place is that it’s a movie full of smart people making smart decisions yet the worst things kept happening, which is why I cracked up at specific moments because I asked myself “How could this get any worse?” And it kept getting worse! There are however some contrivances as certain situations played out in ways that shouldn’t have happened and wouldn’t have happened if the story was just a little better about how to handle its characters and there are moments that are just outright dumb and make you constantly question the rules of the world.
All in all, I really enjoyed A Quiet Place. Some minor grievances aside, it's a great horror movie to see in a theater and I highly recommend seeing it with a crowd. Again, just don't see it with me.