PARAMOUNT PICTURES (2018)
Director: John Krasinski
Starring: Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe
Just. Stay. Quiet
John Krasinski took a break from not being Tim from The Office UK or Jim from The Office USA (and, let’s face it, the UK version is far superior) to direct the chillingly silent horror movie, A Quiet Place. Starring alongside his actual wife, Emily Blunt, the movie marked a departure from his staple style of comedy/drama and a foray into the resurgent horror genre. Whilst the premise of the movie isn’t entirely original, it’s still bloody good.
Set in a post-apocalyptic 2020, the world has been overrun by HR Giger-esque monsters that hunt by sound. You make a sound, they come for you and slurp on your soul. Only a handful of people remain in the remote town where Lee Abbott (Krasinski), his pregnant wife Evelyn (Blunt) and their children Regan (Simmonds), Marcus (Jupe) and Beau (Cade Woodward) reside and those who are left are forced to scavenge for supplies. The family must use sign language to communicate, and with Regan being deaf, it’s second nature. After a tragic accident causes the family numbers to shorten, the Abbotts must stick together if they want to survive – but with a newborn on the way, things won’t be easy.
The use of sound has always been a majorly important factor in the success or failure of horror movies. It’s always been there. From the skin-tearing atmospheric horrors to the cheap, ‘sound turned up to max’ jump scare horrors, it’s the sound that has defined the genre possibly more than any other. A Quiet Place is the next in line to properly utilise this trope, simply by turning the sound off for the majority of the movie. It’s not utterly silent – there are musical cues and every bang or scrape is amplified tenfold, but it’s used sparingly and cleverly. Throwbacks such as Tremors were successful with the idea, and newer flicks such as It Comes at Night and, of course, Don’t Breathe were also effective with their uses and A Quiet Place is another great addition to the hush-hush horror genre. As we’re dropped directly into the midst of the story, there’s no time (or need) for world-ending exposition and the story succeeds further because of this. It’s creepy, at times seat-grippingly so, and it’s isolated – but it’s also a bucketload of pant-wetting fun.
The small cast are all confidently solid in what they have to do. Millicent Simmonds is, in fact, deaf and was cast in part because of this – in order to grasp the authenticity needed. The young actors performed well, and seasoned pro’s Krasinski and Blunt were up to their tasks ably. There were plenty of touching moments between the family members that paid off nicely throughout the movie, moments that didn’t really require sound/dialogue to elevate them.
The stretches of silence (the movie had a snappy ninety-minute runtime) are soon shattered by the sound of a lantern crashing to the floor, a frame smashing or, indeed, a rocket ship toy blaring its tinny music and every small sound will leave you wincing at the screen. The thought of an exposed nail piercing my foot makes me want to scream, let alone watching it and imagining having to keep schtum as the pain rockets through you. Also, having never given birth, I can only imagine you may want to emit some shrieks as the baby decides to enter the world. For the most part, the movie succeeds with these moments – the bathtub scene is genuinely terrifying – and the uncertainty and fear loom large over each scene. It would be easy to ask why didn’t the family use a gun against the nasties, but wouldn’t that just attract more monsters? You’d have to be a lunatic to think otherwise.
There were moments that didn’t entirely work for me - that baby was as quiet as anything and the giving birth lark looked, well…quick and easy. This idea was underplayed and could really have added a terrifying additional layer as opposed to being an undercooked subplot. The conclusion was good, but didn’t feel as satisfying as I’d had hoped given the preceding story – it was just too convenient given the setups earlier in the movie.
Watching A Quiet Place became a surreal and exciting affair and one that reminded me that when the genre is at its best, there aren’t many better. The movie also goes to show that you don't need blood, guts and gore to make a movie scary. It’s not without its flaws, but the movie will silently make you sweat, wince and tense up throughout – it’s a great experience.
Also, don’t wee, poop or do a little blow off and you’ll be just fine.
April 8th 2018