Monday, July 30, 2018

A Quiet Place: Movie Review

I recently watched A Quiet Place on one of the pay per view channels after almost passing it by. A Quiet Place? The title made me think of movies like A Summer Place or suggested a brand of cozy romance or family fare.

OMG. Was I in for a surprise!

Only after pausing to read the very brief and cryptic synopsis was I clued in that this movie was, in fact, science fiction, and it carried a chilling premise.

I'm not sure how I missed this one in theaters, because there was apparently quite a lot of hoopla surrounding it. It released in April 2018 and has been described as "a major box office hit grossing $332 million" as well as receiving acclaim from critics. Stephen King, himself, reportedly called the film "an extraordinary piece of work."

In case you missed it too, I'm going to attempt to do a spoiler-free review, though I'm not sure I'll succeed. It's important to understand the gist of what's happening to get a genuine grasp of the diabolically "quiet" plot.

A Quiet Place opens in a very austere setting. It appears to be a modern New England ghost town, with several children and adults padding around an abandoned store, investigating the merchandise. They don't speak. They only communicate with sign language. Leaves are strewn across the tile floor, the lights are out, and the store has no doors. In fact, no building anywhere has doors.

With the children's mother (played by Emily Blunt) having found the medicine needed for one of the sick children, Marcus (Noah Jupe) they prepare to leave. And that's when the first real indication of something truly sinister is delivered. The youngest boy has scrawled a crayon drawing of a rocket on the floor of the store. He signs to his sister, "That's how we'll get away." He then takes an interest in a space shuttle toy, which his father (played by John Krasinski, who also directed and co-wrote the screenplay) takes away from him and removes the batteries, telling him in sign language. "Too loud." His older sister looks on with sympathy.

The mother signs, "It will be dark soon" and the family files out of the store and begins their silent trek home, following a thin gray line on the ground. The line turns out to be sand, put there deliberately by the family. They are all barefoot. None of them speak. They walk single file down this thin line of sand and don't make a sound as they move.

Until one of them does...

And what is unleashed on this poor, hapless family is absolutely terrifying. It's a force of nature. But certainly not Nature as we know it.


The next scene skips forward more than a year.

If I were going to describe this movie, I might call it Alien meets The Village. There is no explanation of how the horrific menace arrived, but the astute viewer can catch glimpses of headlines in the background of the family's homestead that fill in many of the WTF? blanks.

These people are being threatened by creatures--alien creatures--and they are deadly predators. But they don't hunt in the way we would expect or are accustomed to. Not by sight. Not by smell. They stalk by sound. And their auditory prowess is so keenly developed that they can hear very small sounds from very great distances, and when they close in on prey, they can physically enhance their auditory abilities to zero in on their target.

The family has adapted as best it can to their new reality and to horrifying loss of one of their own. Walking barefoot. Following the trails of sand. The utter lack of language. Their structures have no doors that might slam. (It's not addressed but can probably be assumed that any of the more well known predators that might enter their home have been eliminated by the new arrivals.) Their floors are clearly marked so they know where to step, and how to avoid the sound of creaking boards. They play Monopoly with soft pieces so the game is silent. They eat with their fingers from wooden boards covered with lettuce leaves to hold their food--no dinnerware to clink, no silverware to clatter.

The children have been taught they MUST be noiseless, which presents more of a challenge for the daughter (Millicent Simmonds) because of her circumstances. She's deaf. She doesn't always know when she's making noise. Her father works tirelessly in his monitoring center/workshop to develop a cochlear implant hearing device that will work for her. It might be a matter of survival. But her deafness has created a rift between father and daughter, and she's clearly rebellious about his efforts.

The family is also very resourceful. They've create a soundproof, underground nursery...because the mother, Evelyn, is expecting, and the baby will be too young to understand he must remain silent. Or he will die.

This family isn't completely alone. There are other survivors in the area. Their fires can be seen in the distance, and...occasionally...they are encountered. But for the most part this small family group keeps to itself, growing or gathering food and working toward making their home more survivable.

One beautifully poignant scene drove home what it would be like to live in a world where all sound is suppressed, and the message is delivered via the sole music in the film, the song Harvest Moon by Neil Young. Maybe since the actor couple is married in real life it allowed them to convey the feelings on a very deep level, but even without words, their actions and emotions reveal a couple that has been deprived of something truly precious to them, because a world without sound is a world without stereos.



If you've read this far, I'll let you discover the rest of story for yourself, if you're so inclined. I'm not normally a fan of horror films, but this one was so intricately fascinating that I viewed it three more times before my time expired. Each time I saw new details that I'd missed on the previous viewings.

Not everything is explained. The audience is left to draw their own conclusions on many questions instead of leaving everything perfectly resolved. This leaves plenty of room for your imagination to connect the dots.

Here's the original trailer, which gives a great feel for the mood and ominous theme of A Quiet Place without giving away any key moments.




My grade? A definite Five Star GO.

If you missed this gem, and if sci-fi horror -- albeit with a few heart-breakingly romantic moments -- is your thing, it's an extraordinary tale that craftily builds suspense and springs surprises without resorting to cliche horror tropes. None of the characters behaved in TSTL (too stupid to live) mode, though the choices they make are sometimes wrong or immature, they are always understandable and relate-able.

I guarantee A Quiet Place will definitely leave you with a lingering sense of genuine disquiet.

Have a great week!




11 comments:

  1. Holy s***. The trailer...I just peed my pants. Not sure I'll see this one, Laurie.

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  2. I remember seeing the trailer for this! I'm too scared, too!

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  3. There's NO WAY I would have watched this alone! The first time through some very unexpected things happened! My two re-watches led to slightly less nail-biting, but I honestly tiptoed around the house for quite awhile.

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  4. Phew. Just reading your review gave me the shivers. I'll pass, thanks.

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  5. It's funny, Greta, because I won't watch any of the "paranormal hunter" type shows because they give me the creeps, but this one was my kind of scary.

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  6. It was a very tense movie and watching with someone is recommended.

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  7. Ooh, totally missed it. Like that actress and will check it out!

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    1. Yup, it's Emily Blunt, who also played the hardcore soldier known as The Angel of Verdun from the Sci-Fi flick The Edge of Tomorrow. (She and the leading man, John Krasinski, are married in real life and he, also acting as director, specifically asked for her to play this part.)

      I think you'd relate to this one, Sharon. It's a Sci-Fi Thriller, but there's a lot of hearth and home "cozy" in it, too.

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  8. Okay, in some ways I loved this movie, but the more I thought about it, the more I saw the flaws. It's almost impossible to critique it without giving things away, but just think--how did they plant that HUGE field of corn without any equipment? And, really, can you believe NO ONE--not the best scientists in the world, not the military-- came up with the final solution to their problem before this one family did? Kinda ruined it for me. #writersproblems

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  9. Yeah, David and I had a discussion on some of the "what abouts," too. What about when they sleep? Unless they sleep in a secure, soundproof area, snoring, talking in their sleep or tossing and turning would lead to attack. How did they process enough corn to fill a silo without making any sound (unless it was very old corn)? How do they draw water silently? What about when it's windy? Do the creatures randomly attack trees, bushes -- or laundry-- that make noise? What happens during a lightning storm? What when--not if--there's a forest fire? And, of course, the movie only showed scenes from summer. So how do you slog around in the snow without making any noise? And how do you keep your home warm if you can't have doors on your house? Or fires? Or furnaces?

    There were apparently some explanations that got cut from the original footage for time--such as how did they have power? The answer was an underground power plant. But for the most part, they couldn't address every scenario so if you start thinking about the premise, there are a lot of conveniences. (Kind of like, why didn't the crew from Alien have any weapons onboard?)

    And, yes, I agree that it wouldn't take too much brainpower to figure out a way to incapacitate such a creature. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt that things happened so fast, there wasn't time to react or coordinate any major countermeasures before society and governments were completely decimated.

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