I’ve been interested in seeing A Quiet Place since I first heard of it. I like the idea of the concept, the simplicity of it. Starring Emily Blunt, who has been great in many good things lately is a definite bonus. Set not too long into the future, our planet has been invaded by a species of feral aliens who hunt and kill anything living – but only if it makes a sound. As soon as human beings learn this, having found no way of killing the aliens, they take to living life without making a single sound. The film follows a family on a farm, all grieving after loosing a child to the creatures. With grief tearing at them and a new baby on the way, their days are numbered…
I feel like I’ve entered bit of a mirror universe here. In the same week we saw the release of a horror film from reliably good Blumhouse and another from the reliably bad Platinum Dunes studios. Yet Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare was hot garbage, not even worth viewing ironically. Whereas Platinum Dunes gave us A Quiet Place, a well-made and effective horror film. It’s clear that this is a passion project for writer, director, actor and real-life husband to Emily Blunt John Krasinski.
There’s effort put into every frame here. If I had to compare this to anything else, I’d compare it to an M. Night Shyamalan film. Here me out – we can say what we will about Shyamalan’s body of work, but there’s no denying that for the most part his films are very well-made in terms of directing, camera and sound. Well, maybe not The Last Airbender and After Earth. It’s the same here. Painstaking detail has been given to how this film looks and sounds. I loved the idea that the usually noisy son has a lot of ambient noise surrounding him, whereas when the cameras on the deaf daughter everything is muffled. I like how the camera works around the creatures – we don’t really see them until a point. This is done by hiding them, but not with editing or dodgy lighting. It’s done by clever framework. There’s either an obstacle in the way or they move too quickly for us to focus on them. It makes the hiding of them feel less cheap.
It’s also a very well-acted film, made more impressive by the lack of dialogue throughout most of it. It makes you realise how much we need sound in our daily lives. When they want to shout they can’t, they can only sign it. When they are in pain they can’t scream, they have to hold it in. I like the little details here too. They can all use sign-language – because the daughter is deaf, so they would know how to do that anyway. The mother is implied to have been a nurse and the father an electrician, giving reason for their skills. They use sand to muffle their footsteps and lights to send out messages.
But this is sadly where the film flounders. When we are shown all these details it makes us point out more that they either missed or got wrong. Questions like where they got so much sand are easily ignored, but less so is how they have electricity. The only way I can think of is by generator, but we all know how much sound those make. We’re also not given a gage for what the creatures can hear, which does make the film feel a little inconsistent. We are told that they can’t hear you if you are surrounded by noise, such as by a waterfall. We are also shown the kids playing monopoly with cotton pieces so as not to make clattering sounds on the board, implying that the creatures will hear that. But then we have people getting spotted when fireworks or car engines are going and creatures not hearing a woman breathing heavily from labour pains.
On that note, I don’t really understand why they are having a baby. I can understand it if they played up the element that it was to replace the one they lost, but they don’t really. We all see the problem here – the birthing will be bad enough. But even after that babies can be the noisiest things. In a world like the one they set up it sounds like far too much a risk for them to take. A Quiet Place just suffers from trying to be a little too big for its boots. It wants to act smart, being an effective horror film in the process. It reminds me of The Descent that way. But while it does manage to achieve the latter goal it forgets something – something that The Descent didn’t, and what made it the far greater film. It’s that at the end of the day it’s just a monster film. Adding too many details to a film that ends up being a chase movie with a creature is not the smartest way to go about it. It’s all enjoyable, but the little niggles do start to stack after a while.
I liked A Quiet Place. I have issues with it, and I don’t think it’s worthy of a 95% on Rotten Tomatoes. But I did still find it to be a suspenseful and enjoyable horror film. They work well with a restrictive concept and it feels as long as it needed to feel. The craftsmanship is great and I love how it felt throughout it. If you can look past some logical errors and not ask why people stand still when they make a noise, then you’ll have a very fun time with it. See it and see if you’d survive in this situation. I know I wouldn’t!
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