A Quiet Place (2018)
Starring John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe and Cade Woodward.
Directed by John Krasinski.
Did it take anyone else a while to stop seeing Jim?! If you don’t know what I mean, shame on you! Anyway, A Quiet Placeis Krasinski’s debut feature, starring himself alongside both his onscreen and real-life wife, Emily Blunt. For a debut, it’s not half bad.
The year is 2020, and civilisation collapses following the arrival of ravening monsters that track by sound and pounce on any creature that makes a noise. After a terrible loss, a family — father, mother, daughter, son — survive on an isolated farm, but the imminent arrival of a new baby imperils their fragile fortress.
A prologue before the credits and title establishes how ruthless the film is going to be, and then it picks up just over a year later into the apocalypse. Much like most apocalyptic films and show, we nearly always witness the main characters trying to build some sort of life and community, clinging on to normality as best they can. As we know though, it never stays this way and eventually this community will be threatened. Krasinski is a competent, intelligent, desperate family man, trying to keep things together in his little kingdom, knowing that even the tiniest sound will attract these scary, long-armed creatures with an endless amount of teeth and flesh. Are they aliens? Vampires? Alien vampires? If the characters could have abstract conversations, maybe they’d wonder — but instead they can exchange only the barest essential dialogue, mostly by sign language. As I’ve said before, creatures of this sort just don’t do it for me. It would have been way scarier if they were being hunted by crazed people or something. Sure it kept me involved, but I wasn’t scared.
A huge upside to this movie is the casting. The chemistry as you would expect between Blunt and Krasinski was gripping, with a lovely tender moment half way through. The kids too gave stunning performances. While Noah Jupe is strong as the decent, young son, the standout performer here is hearing-impaired Millicent Simmonds, as the family’s deaf daughter, whose particular issues dovetail unsettlingly with the approach of the monsters she can’t hear coming.
There were times I thought Krasinski had kind of cheated – that way he couldn’t fail or be accused of lack of momentum or, ‘it just didn’t go anywhere’, something horror/thriller needs not to fail on more than anything. Horror relies on sound and noise for the jumps and suspense. Take away the sound as A Quiet Place so does, and you are half way there. Adding to this, his eldest daughter is deaf so cannot detect danger even if sound was no issue.
Furthermore, he sticks to every horror convention in the book – isolation, predator, tragedy, and sacrifice. It’s a wise move but could be perceived as somewhat predictable. Your obstacles were obvious – pregnancy. There’s your narrative. I regret to say, at times it really lacked depth and felt a bit ‘copy-cat’ at times. Blunt protests it was the script that made her want to sign on to this film, but I can’t help but feel it was a marketing ploy and a way of providing moral support to her other half.
Ever since studying film, I gave up my right to be able to watch films without mentally dissecting them from start to finish. Unfortunately, A Quiet Place for me was predictable and had so many flaws in its ability to convince me this could happen that I wasn’t scared. The lack of noise heightened its suspense and is definitely an original idea, but for me it distracted me into focusing on all the noises that just wouldn’t be avoidable ‘in reality’.
It’s a good debut from Kransinki, and I feel now he’s got a feel for what’s behind the camera, he has a lot more to give for future projects. It’s worth a watch too – a film like this is really down to personal taste and what gives you a scare. It’s jumpy in all the right places and certainly keeps you intrigued to find out how it ends.