A QUIET PLACE (2018)
Starring Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Noah Jupe, Millicent Simmonds, Leon Russom, Cade Woodward and Doris McCarthy.
Screenplay by Bryan Woods, Scott Beck, John Krasinski.
Directed by John Krasinski.
Distributed by Paramount Pictures. 90 minutes. Rated PG-13.
I must admit, in recent years I’ve pretty much had my fill of post-apocalyptic thrillers. Last summer, when I reviewed It Comes at Night, I suggested that they put a moratorium on the whole genre, since it had become so stagnant and cliched in its storytelling. I was wondering if it was even possible to make a movie in this style that was not just bleak and depressing.
Which brings us to A Quiet Place, which has done a good deal towards resurrecting my faith in the filmmaking style. A Quiet Place is not only a very good post-apocalyptic thriller, it is a very good thriller in general. It does not stray too far from the normal formula, and yet is adds a sense of compassion and several unique scenarios to the playing field.
It is certainly the first end of the world survival flick in a long time where I actually cared who lived and died in the end.
A Quiet Place takes place in the farm country of Northern New York state, in the very near future, after the human race has been decimated by a murderous breed of aliens. (I assume they are space aliens, though this is never completely confirmed, as many things are left a mystery in the world.) These marauding monsters are completely blind, so they hunt by sense of hearing. If you make a loud sound, they will be all over you in no time.
The heroes of the story are Lee and Evelyn Abbott (co-writer/director John Krasinski and his real-life wife Emily Blunt), a young farming couple with three children and another one on the way. (The youngest son is killed by the aliens in a taut prologue.) In the limited time since the alien attack, the family has learned to be completely quiet, using sign language and occasional whispers to communicate.
In fact, the first non-whispered and/or hand-signed dialogue happens about 45 minutes into the movie. The sense of silence is oppressive, to the point where one scene where Krasinski and Blunt dance in the basement with shared earbuds to Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon,” just hearing the music is almost shocking.
However, it is nearly impossible to be completely quiet all the time, and every time they make a noise they must evade these alien killing machines.
There are only eight actors in the entirety of A Quiet Place, and one is a newborn baby, one character is already dead when we meet her, and her husband dies soon after. There is even a limited number of the monsters – three – adding to the claustrophobia of the situation.
It is a taut and scary predicament, and Krasinski and co-writers Bryan Woods and Scott Beck keep ratcheting up the tension exponentially. Truth to be told, the aliens are scarier as mysterious forces in the shadows; once we see them closeup they are kind of ridiculous looking. However, you can say that about most film aliens, and if they are kind of weird looking, that does not dampen their sense of malevolent menace.
As the story twists and turns its way to its shocking – if not necessarily completely surprising – climax, you have come to relate with this poor family and their hellish predicament, and each and every danger which crosses their path becomes more disturbing.
A Quiet Place is proof that you can take a genre which is drowning in its own morass of clichés and overkill, give it some serious, smart consideration, and come out with something truly special.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2018 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: April 6, 2018.