John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place was a fun little ride using a mixture of atmosphere, good acting, and some unnecessary but not overly done jump scares.
The story is set in a post-apocalypse where the key to survival is remaining as quiet as possible otherwise the bogeymen come out to eat you. It’s a great premise but doesn’t add much new to the horror genre, as many of the most thrilling scenes in both horror and action revolve around being dead quiet – Don’t Breathe was a masterful indie example of this and even Spielberg used this tactic to great effect in Jurassic Park in the classic Velociraptor kitchen and some kids scene.
Yet, these actors sell the premise and keep us breathless while they go about their business, tiptoeing through life in both their mundane and most heart-pounding moments. With little dialogue and only sign language and signalling as their main source of communication, we are brought into each character’s world almost immediately and don’t escape until nearly the last scene.
The driving force of this movie is survival. It tries to humanize some of the characters and even make us care about some possible discord between father and daughter, but it’s pretty throw-away stuff. What A Quiet Place excels at is setting up an environment and keeping us clinching to our seats until our protagonists manage to figure a way out of it. Again, nothing new from the horror genre, but they manage to play all the right beats. So like a good pop song that follows your classic pop song structure (verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus), you forget that it is predictable and go along for the journey.
Another thing going for this movie is that these characters mostly don’t do stupid things, which doesn’t mean they don’t make mistakes. However, I was never taken out of the movie for thinking “You deserve to die you stupid Fuck!” The most questionable decision is probably the one which the trailer above reveals, but I don’t want to spoil too much. But who am I to judge what two adults choose for their future even in the direst of situations? I will credit the fact that the movie does its best to show us that both the adults had prepared themselves well for this decision, though.
One sour note of A Quiet Place is that it felt like it wanted to go deeper, like The Witch or even the uneven It Comes at Night, on various occasions but depended on some pretty cliche horror narratives to sustain itself – cue jump scares. When it had everything set up for a character study on how parents deal with grief and feeling helpless to protect their young, it dropped the ball and gave us a heart attack inducing horror-action sequence. This is not necessary a bad thing, because the sequences were so well done, but it is frustrating when you see the possibilities in front of you but they are overpassed for the easy route.
I had a few other issues with this movie, but not enough to ruin it for me.
First, the creatures felt like extras from Cloverfield or the Alien franchise: they crept up slowly around corners and made clicking and hissing sounds before pouncing on their prey. Even their body structure was very much inspired by classic xenomorphs mixed with some Cloverfield wackyness.
Second, in some parts, the movie felt a bit like Cloverfield and 10 Cloverfield Lane in the way they had unexplained other-dimensional monsters looming near keeping our protagonists trapped and how our protagonists tried to keep a level of normalcy despite the world having ended around them (the latter has shades of It Comes At Night wrapped around it too, especially with the open outdoors setting and them being in a single house in the middle of nowhere ). One particular scene in a pool of water felt like a full-on homage to Alien: Resurrection.
But like I said to begin, these shades of other movies and the loss of suspense once we see the monster does not mean the film was completely lost, but even Jaws loses a bit of a thrill once we see that it is a rubber shark. Also, thinking about other films while watching something in front of you can be both fun (if you are a film buff) and irritating depending on how badly the film in front of you is being executed. You just can’t escape that. Luckily the execution in A Quiet Place was good enough to give these nitpicky points a general pass.
The only genuine let down for me was the ending. It was telegraphed from a mile away – and trust me when I say I am the worst at figuring out endings or plot twists to even the most basic movies. I don’t envy people who have this talent because I wouldn’t want to be taken out of a movie ten to twenty minutes (or more) before the end credits. But given what we had to work with A Quiet Place at least had a logical ending – although I did wonder how come some top scientists around the world hadn’t figured out in the years since the monster attacks began what our ingenious family member figured out in less than a day. Well, that’s Hollywood, I guess.
I highly recommend this movie, though. It is not on Sixth Sense level cerebral and character heavy, but it is far from being brain dead. It works the audience and the work pays off.
Tell me what you thought of A Quiet Place in the comments below.
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