Using sound in movies as “another character” is nothing new, but it’s done to great effect in A Quiet Place.
About the film
Regularly, moviegoers hear about the “next great horror movie,” and most of the time there’s great disappointment.
Get Out (2017, Movie Man No. 1243, 7) delivered and the very strange mother! (2017, MM #1272, 6) did to a lesser degree. (That movie has stuck with the Movie Man.)
A recent miss in the “next great” film in the genre was The Witch (2016, MM #1190, 5).
The upcoming Truth or Dare due next week is the latest “ground-breaking” horror movie; that looks unlikely.
Reviews for A Quiet Place heralded another memorable scary movie, and they’re right.
Using silence in movies is always cool.
Perhaps most famously is Wait Until Dark (1967). Back in the old days when it was permissible, not only did the screen go dark but the entire theater did.
Naturally, that seriously ramped up the freak-out factor.
Quentin Tarantino did a good job with cinematic darkness and sound in Kill Bill, Vol. 2 (2004, MM #556, 4).
It has even worked on TV.
The most lauded Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode is “Hush” – a mostly silent story line with some seriously creepy monsters, The Gentlemen.
There are not many spoken words in A Quiet Place – but it’s not language that’s so jolting in the movie.
The plot (spoilers)
It’s never explained, but the world has been overrun by huge, blind monsters that feed on humans; the only way the creatures find folks is by sound.
That makes being quiet essential and apparently most of mankind could not since almost all of humanity is eradicated.
The Abbotts have survived, but at great cost when the youngest was taken before their eyes. It haunts the family years later.
Lee (John Krasinski) and his pregnant wife Evelyn (Emily Blunt, Krasinski’s real-life wife) try to protect their remaining children Regan (Millicent Simmonds), who has a hearing disability, and Marcus (Noah Jupe).
Living is a challenge with the hideous, quick monsters always nearby.
And they infiltrate the Abbott house when, alone, Blunt begins to deliver her baby.
She and the baby must be saved – and the family must figure out how to defeat the beings.
What works (spoilers)
For his first time out as a director, Krasinski does a great job. He’s also a writer and producer. He does a fine job acting, too, but the two females are the best actors here.
Tortured teen Simmonds thinks her father blames her for the terrible tragedy that occurred to her little brother.
And Blunt is phenomenal, especially in that torturous childbirth sequence.
There are only six actors in the entire movie and two of those have little screen time.
Simmonds and Jupe are the best child actors onscreen in a long time.
Several scenes stand out.
In one, dad and son are returning from gathering food – Krasinski has also taken Jupe behind a large waterfall where he can yell to his heart’s content – when they come across a distraught old man whose mangled dead wife is before him.
Krasinski begs the man not to scream, but the painful wail can not be contained. That means monster-time.
The childbirth scene is riveting, and so is another where Krasinski must make a great sacrifice.
The creatures are not unique but look cool enough with their evolution-enhanced, multi-ears picking up any sound.
Best scene (spoiler)
The opening sequence sets the tone then there’s a horrible shock as it ends.
The family is cautiously wandering around a grocery store, collecting the meager supplies.
The youngest of the family, Beau (Cade Woodward), longs for a toy spaceship, but it makes electronic noises and is forbidden.
However, he gets it anyway. And on the quiet walk home, he turns it on – it does not end well for little Woodward.
What doesn’t work
There are a couple of major plot holes.
One, the way to control (somewhat) the creatures is so deceptively easy that surely the greatest minds of humanity would’ve figured it out already.
Two, if you build a soundproof safe room (for the new baby), why wouldn’t you stay there all the time since you can talk inside?
It’s been a long time since readers have been warned about how potent a PG-13 can be.
A Quiet Place is very intense with some serious threats (and worse) to children. That could really disturb some kids.
There’s also some minor gore and gooey monsters.
It’s a hard PG-13.
This movie lives up to the hype. It has whiffs of Signs (2002, MM #468, 8) and The Road (2009), but it’s mostly unique and scary fun.
Rampage starring our next president, The Rock.