Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Movie Review: A Quiet Place

A Quiet Place **** / *****
Directed by: John Krasinski.
Written by: Bryan Woods & Scott Beck and John Krasinski.
Starring: Emily Blunt (Evelyn), John Krasinski (Lee), Millicent Simmonds (Regan Abbott), Noah Jupe (Marcus Abbott), Cade Woodward (Beau Abbott).
A Quiet Place is in an ingenious made horror film – the kind that forces you to pay extra close attention to the film, and then scares the crap out of you for doing so. You could argue that what co-writer/star/director John Krasinski’s decision to make a film with almost no dialogue in it is a gimmick – but even if it is one, it’s an excellent one, and one he pulls off pretty much perfectly.
A title card at the beginning announces its Day 89 – and already, the family at the center of the film is living in what appears to be a lonely, post-apocalyptic world. They walk around a drug store, with no shoes on, careful to not make the slightest sound. We see the remnants of our world around them, and hints about what made everything go this way. Out in the woods, the youngest child will make a decision that does not end well – and we know precisely why they cannot make a sound. There are creatures out there – if they hear you, you’re dead.
Most of the movie takes place a year after that – where the father, Lee (John Krasinski) has grown more cautious, as he tries to protect what remains of his family on an isolated farm. His wife, Evelyn (Emily Blunt) is pregnant – and almost ready to give birth. They do have a plan on how to deal with a baby in a world where you cannot make a sound. Their two kids, Marcus (Noah Jupe) and Regan (Millicent Simmonds) are struggling in different ways in this new world – Regan more so as she is haunted by guilt, and is also deaf – therefore, it’s even harder for her to keep quiet since she cannot hear the noise herself. The story is relatively straight forward from there – Evelyn is going to give birth, things are not going to go according to plan, and noises will be made – the creatures, who wouldn’t look out of place in an Alien movie – will come listening for good.
This isn’t Krasisnki’s first film as a director – but it’s his first time trying his hand at horror, and he succeeds brilliantly. He excels in setting up tension – in given us clues as to what is to come, and then springing those traps at the right moment. Because so much of the movie is so quiet, every sound really is important, and nerve rattling for those of us in the audience. He perhaps leans too heavily on Marco Beltrami’s score (I think it’s madness to think that no score would have worked better, but perhaps a quieter, more subtle score would have worked better). The first two acts of the movie are a brilliant setup, for a terrific finale – a horror movie that actually sticks the landing.
The performances are all good – Krasinski has never been better in a non-Jim Halpert role – here being a father who clearly does love his family, but is more concerned with protecting them than in letting them see that. He shows that love in other ways that don’t always make themselves clear. Blunt is given a showy role than that – having to struggle to give birth, and keep quiet, with a giant monster in the room. It’s another role that makes tremendous use of her natural abilities – her motherly instincts on full display. And young Millicent Simmonds shows that her terrific work in last year’s underseen Wonderstruck by Todd Haynes (seriously – seek that film out if you haven’t already) was no fluke.
In many ways, A Quiet Passion is a straight ahead horror film, with just enough emotional depth to make it work that much better (it’s always better to want the characters in a horror film to live instead of not giving a shit). But it is a brilliantly executed one by Krasinski and company – one of the early highlights of the year, and a truly frightening horror film.

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