Tuesday , 14 August 2018

Screams aplenty in A Quiet Place – review

“It’s time we stop, hey, what’s that sound, everybody look what’s going down.”
“For What It’s Worth” – Buffalo Springfield

Shhhh! Don’t make a sound. Don’t scream, don’t talk, don’t even whisper. Or the monsters will get you. That, my frightful friends, is the basic premise of the latest critical and commercial horror hit invading theaters across the globe, A Quiet Place. It comes from director, John Krasinski, yes, that John Krasinski, lovable, smart-alecky, lovestruck Jim Alpert from the American version of The Office. Here, he has created a tense, suspenseful, nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat horror film that is destined to become a classic of the genre.

Taking place in the very near future, A Quiet Place co-stars Krasinski and his real-life wife, Emily Blunt (Edge of Tomorrow, The Girl on the Train), as parents trying to keep their family alive amidst a post-apocalyptic landscape where most of the world’s population has been annihilated by vicious, horrifying monsters that hunt pretty much exclusively by sound. Where do these fiendish beasts come from? Who the hell knows, maybe, in fact, hell. But once they get a whiff, or rather, wind of a living, breathing creature, it is game over, man. Now, while attempting to carry on living in the world in such a manner presents a multitude of inherent difficulties, it is compounded when you are trying to protect children who by their very nature are prone to being noisy. Here, silence is not just golden, it’s essential to survival. Adding more dilemnas to the mix is that the oldest child is deaf, and there’s the impending arrival of a new addition to the family. Can they manage to keep the family intact and safe from the monsters while perhaps even finding a way to discover a weakness and fight back?

With A Quiet Place, Krasinski has expertly crafted an exciting new horror film for the ages. Who would have thought, coming from someone best known for acting in comedies? Anyone who saw last year’s breakout hit from another comedy vet, writer/director Jordan Peele’s Oscar-winning, Get Out, that’s who. Though Peele appears poised to continue in the horror genre, Krasinki’s turn may just be a one-off. Regardless, it’s a knockout of a one-timer. Honing a screenplay by Bryan Woods and Scott Beck, Krasinski taps into the intrinsic fear of all parents who struggle to protect their family from forces which might endanger it. Since horror so often relies on manipulation of sound to elicit scares from the audience, Krasinski is forced to get creative by utilizing a lack of audio to fashion suspense and terror. It makes the sudden use of sound effects when they happen even more jarring, where even the rustle of leaves could spell impending doom. The musical score by Marco Beltrami is sparse yet highly effective when it is employed. Normal methods of transportation, meaning motor vehicles, and weapons, specifically, any firearms, are expressly forbidden, as they would naturally attract the otherwise hidden creatures. The creatures, themselves, are gloriously horrific creations, biologically sound based on their evolutionary adaptations.

The cast is as minimal as you can get, requiring everyone to carry their weight, not an easy task when an actor’s often greatest tool, the use of words, can only be used sparingly. Krasinski is terrific as a husband and father desperate to keep his family safe in a world where that is near impossible. It’s difficult to even remember the last time someone put in such an intense performance in front of the camera while also working behind it. Blunt is also outstanding as a mother who will do anything to protect her family, including the one on the way. Both actors also must be commended for their use of sign language in communicating with their daughter, played by young Millicent Simmonds. An actual deaf actress, she is an incredible find, and more than holds her own opposite her adult counterparts. Noah Jupe and Cade Woodward are also excellent as the two younger sons.

The film makes one ponder what they might do if put in a similar situation. Where would be the best place to live with these creatures seemingly everywhere? Perhaps the beach, where walking on the sand would be virtually silent and the sound of the crashing waves would mask any talking. Or maybe a city that would provide plenty of housing and places to hide. To what measures would one go to ensure the safety and survival of their family? Might you even take the extreme step of sacrificing a child if it meant the others’ chances of living would be greater? OK, maybe that’s not something this family ever considers, but it had this viewer wondering. It is interesting to see how this particular family goes about their daily lives to minimize their interaction with the creatures while searching for food, and how they institute certain procedures to protect themselves or warn each other if they are detected.

Last year was another excellent year for horror, perhaps its best since 1982. With early breakout hits in Split and Get Out, a box office behemoth in It, and Oscar winners in The Shape of Water and Get Out, 2017 was a year to dismember. With A Quiet Place being both a commercial and critical success, and another highly anticipated, buzz-worthy frightfest, Hereditary, on the way, 2018 may give the previous year a run for its money.

A Quiet Place is a taut, original horror film that fascinates as it terrifies you. It presents a bleak, post-apocalyptic landscape populated by monsters more brutal and horrifying than any zombie. It is also a family drama where that family is pushed to the very edge of survival. How does one hold their family together under such dire circumstances? While you question what you might do in such a scenario, just sit back and enjoy your popcorn and soda, quietly, that is, as you should be overly conscious of every little peep emanating from your mouth if you have any consideration for others. You won’t want to draw any attention to yourself from fellow moviegoers who might be distracted by any loud munching or sipping. In this case, you’d be the monster.

— review by Brian de Castro

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