TL;DR – A masterpiece in tension and the bonds of family, where every moment has you on the edge of your seat.
Score – 5 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – There is no Post-Credit Scene
Now today before we start I want to do something a little be different than the norm. If you are a fan of sci-fi, horror, monster films, or films that take creative risks then I want you to stop reading this review right now and go see A Quiet Place, Trust me it is well worth your time, and you will want to go in with as little pre-knowledge as possible other than it is an expertly created film with a compelling narrative. For those who have seen the film or everyone else who is jumping ahead let’s take look at the masterpiece that is A Quiet Place.
So to set the scene, we open on Day 89, and there is nobody around as we pan through an abandoned town. However, all is not dead as we see glimpses of movement in the remnants of a supermarket. After little hints, we see that at least one family has survived whatever has befallen the world. The father Lee (John Krasinski) is searching from electrical supplies, Evelyn (Emily Blunt) is getting medicine for Marcus (Noah Jupe) who had a fever, and Regan (Millicent Simmonds) is watching over Beau (Cade Woodward) the youngest of the family. However, something is clearly amiss because every member of the family is trying to not make a single sound, walking on tiptoes, being careful with every movement. Also, we see that Regan has a cochlear implant and that the whole family knows how to sign, most likely one of the reasons that they are still alive as something out there is making them afraid of making a single noise. Beau is drawing a rocket with chalk mentioning that this is the only way to escape, which leads to him spotting a NASA space shuttle toy on a top shelf, and when no one is looking he reaches up to get it and then everything falls apart … Day 472. One thing that I do want to say before jumping into the review proper is that due to the nature of the film there may be some [SPOILERS] incoming, so if you have not seen the film you need to be cautious reading forward.
This is one of those films where it is actually difficult to work out what to praise first, but to start us off I have to talk about the sound design. When you have a film with only three or four lines of spoken dialogue in the film, where the slightest noise could be a fatal mistake, well then suddenly every single sound becomes important. Thankfully the whole sound team knows this and they put in an Oscar-winning performance. Take at the start of the film where there is no music instead they use the silence to build the tension for the reveal of the monster. So you hear every shuffle of feet on the floor, the tremble in the fingers as a medicine bottle is twisted around without knocking into any of the others, so when Beau picks up the space shuttle we already know the danger is coming even if we don’t know what the danger is yet. Throughout A Quiet Place the camera will often slip into one character’s point of view, now films do this all the time, however, when we are looking at the world from Regan’s point of view there is no sound. This is used at times to heighten the world that she lives in, and also at times to make the world a much more terrifying place.
Another aspect of the film that makes it work is all the attention to detail the filmmakers used in creating this post-apocalyptic world. If you have to live in a world where you can’t make a sound how does that change the way you live? Well, for one thing, if your children are missing you can’t find them by yelling, and yes there are obvious things like this, but it is the small touches that I liked. For instance, all around the family farm, there are paths of sand which are the safe zones. You can walk on them without accidentally stepping on a twig creating a snap, or how where you can stand in the floor and not create a creek in the floorboards are sanded down so there is no confusion. All the while A Quiet Place also thinks you the audience is smart enough to work this all out so it does not waste your time explaining this in some oddly placed exposition dump. All of this creates a world that feels lived in, drawing you into the lives of the Abbotts.
All of this leads to the cast and with a film with only seven people on screen for the entire film getting the cast right is more important than ever, and boy do they ever. First, we have Emily Blunt who is a powerhouse in this film when she is hiding from the monsters while also going into labour was one the terrifying things I have seen on screen in a long while. I first saw Noah Jupe in Suburbicon (see review) and while that film had a lot of issues, its one saving grace was Noah, and it is great getting to see him excel in a movie working as hard as he is. What a revelation Millicent Simmonds is, she has to go so many different emotional places throughout the film only emoting with her face and she hit every single one of them with the talent of someone who has been working in the industry from decades. Finally, we have one of the screenwriters, the director and star John Krasinski who is simply phenomenal here. This so could have been an overwrought vanity exercise as we have seen before in countless films, but this not, he is perfectly cast in this role, like the rest of the cast, and he really works as the father trying to do everything for his kids, for better or worse.
It is here where A Quiet Place shines, and that is the themes that it is dealing with. Like the best speculative fiction out there, it uses the scenario to look at very real themes. In A Quiet Place, that theme is family, the bonds that hold us together, and the things that could be tearing us apart that we don’t even know about. Communicating within a family is always a difficult thing even at the best of times, but when communication becomes that much more difficult things can slip without you knowing. Add to this the guilt that everyone still feels over the loss of Beau, Lee could not reach him in time, Evelyn could have been holding him, and Regan gave him the shuttle not seeing him also get the batteries. This guilt creates a scenario where Regan interprets Lee’s distance as him blaming her for the death, where it actually is from him spending so much time trying to get her cochlear implant working again and the guilt of not being able to fix it so far. This would be difficult to get across in a film where you could just monologue to let the audience know, but in a film with little audible dialogue, it is amazing what they communicate.
Finally just a couple of quick points. I really liked the design of the monsters, and how they did everything possible to limit how much you can see of them. Also, I liked that they never really explained where they came from, is this an alien invasion, is it supernatural, experiment gone wild, it does not matter because that is not the heart of the film. Big props to Charlotte Bruus Christensen for some beautifully framed shots, that moment when they return back to see the red lights were stunning. As well as this, the film is perfectly paced with it running as long as it needed to be and not a moment longer.
In the end, do we recommend A Quiet Place? Of course we do, in fact, it is only the second film this year to get 5 out of 5 scores. It is a beautiful look at family, it is a heart-pounding escape from killer monsters that you know can take anyone down, and if that last scene is not one of the best of the year then 2018 will be a groundbreaking year for cinema. Totally make sure you go see it, though you may not want to do what I did and see it at the last showing for the day and then get home and try to sleep, because that ship sailed.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of A Quiet Place
Directed by – John Krasinski
Story by – Bryan Woods & Scott Beck
Screenplay by – Bryan Woods, Scott Beck & John Krasinski
Music by – Marco Beltrami
Cinematography by – Charlotte Bruus Christensen
Edited by – Christopher Tellefsen
Starring – Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe & Cade Woodward
Rating – Australia: M; Canada: 14A; Germany: 16; New Zealand: M; United Kingdom: 15; United States: PG-13