Last year, in my It review, I mentioned that I wasn’t quite into horror. That isn’t quite true. I can get into horror, so long as the set-up and execution (pun not intended) isn’t incredibly lazy. Unfortunately most horror movies are like this, and you know what I mean, music swells up to a crescendo, thing jumps out as if we weren’t expecting it. Or in the advanced lesson, music swells, nothing happens, then something jumps out.
However, like any other film, I like films with good ideas in it’s head and applying said good ideas in a competent way, that said, let’s look at A Quiet Place.
In a post-apocalyptic world overrun by blind monsters who hunt by sound a family must scrape together to survive on their own while making as little noise as possible.
I was intrigued enough by A Quiet Place’s premise to go and watch it without having heard of it prior to booking my ticket. Sure the set up for quietness as a tactic of avoiding stuff has been used before, I remember a film called Don’t Breathe in the last few years, but what in this world is entirely original? Having never seen Don’t Breathe, this is entirely new to me at least.
The execution of the silence is very-well executed, thankfully, seeing how the film relies on it, it’s use as atmosphere leaves a thick feeling of tension over the scenes, building to when that silence is eventually broken, you feel as tense as they do in that situation as their breath becomes fast and panicked, the return of the silence sits on you like a sheet of whale blubber.
This angle isn’t the film’s only good idea however, the characters are another master stroke, there are only four constant characters in the entire narrative, which gives the story a small focus while holding larger implications, there are hints at the widespread devastation but we only see this small corner of the world, which gives us investment in the survival of these characters. As an addition, one of the characters is deaf, which gives another interesting angle on events as that becomes more relevant as the story goes on.
At the start of the film, Emily’s Blunt’s character is pregnant, adding another dimension to proceedings as the difficulties of childbirth, especially one which needs to be silent is brought into focus, this all builds to an incredibly smart scene where all the factors come together as a tense and thrilling set-piece.
Acting wise, it’s a solid effort from it’s leads. BAFTA winner Emily Blunt leads the cast as the pregnant mother trying to get by in an increasingly strange world, Blunt has shown herself as a talented actress multiple time and this is no difference. She is joined by John Krasinski, who also wrote and directed the film, I can’t say I’m too aware of Krasinski’s work but I was impressed here, both by his directing and acting, there were some truly beautiful shots in some scenes and his characters emotive motivation are incredibly believable. Blunt and Krasinski share incredible chemistry on screen; possibly helped by the fact that they are husband and wife off-screen.
Even the child actors in this film are stand-out’s. Playing the film’s previously mentioned deaf character is deaf actor Millicent Simmonds who simply did not need dialogue to come across as complex and conflicted. Noah Jupe plays her brother in a weak link in the film, not in any way because of Noah, but his character feels like the one with the least development, he does have his moments but often seems like an afterthought.
It is not by any means a perfect film, there is an over-reliance on jump scares at times, this is disappointing as it does such a good job building a nice tension, also, and this may seem petty, but I think it spends too much time towards the end of the film showing us the monster, I’ve always thought in these films that what we think of is scarier than what we’re shown, and intrigue is instantly lost by showing us the monster, it is however, a very well designed and interesting monster. Blimey that was petty.
Also, it’s a very short film, it clocks in at 90 minutes, but this is hardly a bad thing as it uses all it’s good ideas and is paced well enough to show them all off without overstaying it’s welcome.
Overall, this is a cut above usual horror fare, anchored by a talented cast and an intriguing premise, highly recommended for a different horror experience.