A Quiet Place (2018)
I've held off on watching A Quiet Place for a long time. Not because I thought I wouldn't like it - I was quite sure I would - but rather because it was never convenient. It is classed by some as a horror film, but although it has survival horror elements, it's really an alien invasion film. Thus, when it came time to do horror marathons I put it to the side, while at other times it just didn't fit into what I was watching.
Although many of the elements of the movie have been done before, this is still a bit more creative than either the normal alien invasion flick or survival horror. It has received some criticism for showing the monsters early on, but I think that comes from the fact that this wasn't supposed to be something like Jaws or even Halloween, but rather more along the lines of a typical 1950s sci-fi flick, except without the rubber suits.
Lee Abbott (John Krasinski), his wife Evelyn (Emily Blunt) and their children Regan (Millicent Simmonds) and Marcus (Noah Jupe) are a rural farming family trying, like many, to survive after an unspecified event - possibly a large asteroid hit - results in humanity being preyed upon by predatory creatures brought to Earth that hunt by sound. Because Regan is deaf it makes it easier for the family to communicate by American Sign Language, but they are still presented with many problems when going about daily life such as farming or going into town to scavenge supplies. These difficulties, and the difficulties of communicating the situation to a child, have led to the death of their youngest, Beau (Cade Woodward).
It's an even bigger problem if one is to have baby, and Evelyn has one on the way. While the Abbotts have prepared a soundproof room and a box in which to keep the infant, there are also the logistics of when labor finally comes. Lee, for his part, has been trying to get in contact with other survivors by HAM radio, and has been looking for a weakness in the creatures, who are armored, fast-moving and generally have a head that, besides the mouth, is a giant ear. As can be predicted, everything comes to a head when the baby arrives, and all the family's plans go awry.
John Krasinsky, in addition to acting in the film, also directed and helped revise the original script from Bryan Woods and Scott Beck. While naturally there is no way to think through every possibility, especially since a human body makes so many noises involuntarily, they did a good job in constructing the film and staying within the rules. The Abbotts go about barefoot, often with sand laid down in places to deaden footfalls. Food is largely smoked or cooked in ways where the fire can't be heard, food is soft so the sounds of chewing won't be evident, and no one speaks above the slightest whisper. There is an early scene in a grocery store where many of the supplies are gone, but the salty snacks - like potato chips and crackers - are left behind due to the fact that eating them makes a crunching sound.
That does make one of the biggest parts of the plot kind of a head scratcher. Evelyn is near her due date, and they have already lost one child. The situation with the creatures has not resolved in almost a year and a half. I cannot imagine what would even make a couple think that they should have unprotected sex and have a baby - one of the noisiest things on Earth next to a yard crew that knows one is about to record a podcast - when the very survival of the family depends on silence. It may seem like a huge plot hole, but unfortunately it is one of the most realistic things in the movie, as human beings are always going against their best interests and doing the opposite of what they should do.
The creatures themselves are quite interesting. There is more than a little inspiration taken from Cloverfield. In fact, A Quiet Place was at one time supposed to be absorbed into the Cloverfield series. Regardless of what one thinks of those movies, the creature designs have always been unique, and this one is as well. It's another striking instance of how some real work was put into this movie, as everything about the creatures indicates the environment they evolved in. Most likely on their home planet they were not an apex predator, hence the armor, and it was most likely a rogue or tidally locked planet where at least a good portion of the ecosystem would be in total darkness, hence making eyes unnecessary. They are wild animals, with no type of intelligence hinted at, that also use their extreme hearing for echolocation. It's an amazing creation, and the CGI is well done, as it should be since there wasn't a whole lot of extra effects to do in this movie.
Saying as there is little dialogue, and most of it being in ASL, the acting is great even if the family itself doesn't have a lot of dimension. Most of the family drama is the same as what has been seen in other horror films and shows such as The Walking Dead, including moody teenagers who think that their parents don't love them. Despite the family themselves not being the most interesting the situation leads to tension throughout the film, wondering what type of random noise is going to bring the creatures around.
It's not a perfect film, but it was one that lived up to its reputation. The effects are believable, it tends to try to follow the rules of its universe as closely as it can, and it tends to limit the scares to only when there is something to frightened about. The conceit is effective, but so is the fact that it is a throwback to older movies where, even if the lead human characters are not the biggest draw, they are at least working toward a goal, even if the choice of how to end it is more modern and more realistic.
A Quiet Place (2018)
Time: 90 minutes
Starring: John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe
Director: John Krasinski