Thursday, 19 April 2018
A Quiet Place (2018) - Horror Film Review
A Quiet Place seems to be the film that even non horror fans are all talking about at the moment. It is never a bad thing when a genre piece gets into the public consciousness. Ever since me and a friend saw the teaser trailer for this we wanted to see it, it seemed like it would be like 28 Days Later in tone while I loved the idea that this is a world where any noise whatsoever results in instant death from unknown adversaries.
This takes place in a world in which monstrous aliens have invaded Earth. These creatures are blind, but they have super hearing and attack any noise source within moments of it occurring. The majority of this takes place around a year and a half after the invasion, Lee (John Krasinski who also directs), his pregnant wife Evelyn (Emily Blunt - The Wolfman), and their two children; Marcus (Noah Jupe - Penny Dreadful) and deaf Regan (Millicent Simmonds - perhaps a distant relative of mine?) live in silence on a farm deep in the American countryside. One fateful evening their place of refuge becomes a target for the creatures, it just so happens to be the night that Evelyn gives birth...
I was impressed with how tightly A Quiet Place sticks to the use of silence, and how it gradually incorporated music into this. The first twenty minutes or so play out in complete silence, not even a score to listen to. This quickly sets up the rules of the world, and the great lengths the characters have to go to just to survive. Characters walk around barefoot on specially laid out pathways of sand, their every movement and action measured out to reduce noise as much as possible. While there is a small amount of dialogue to be found here the vast majority of the interactions take place via sign language which was a nice touch as I just figured this would be 90 minutes of people whispering loudly at each other. Obviously there is subtitles for most of us who don't know sign language but I'm sure people who do would have got a kick out of this aspect.
After a song playing out of headphones is introduced the accompanying music comes to the forefront, and from that point on it never really lets up too much. I have heard people complain that it didn't just stick to silence throughout but I did feel it added to the more tense and dramatic moments. I also loved that scenes focusing on Regan play out in complete silence, to mirror what the character can hear. This leads to some effective moments that reminded me of Hush in that a character is oblivious to the absolute danger they are in, but as a viewer you are silently screaming at the character to turn around! With such a quiet film every noise becomes a shocking moment, and this does rely quite a bit on jump scares of the sound based variety, a bit too much I felt.
Not including the monster itself, and a random dead body this has a cast of just six people, though two of those are barely in the movie at all. As such it was a delight that the four main characters were all fantastic in their roles. It must help that Blunt and Krasinski are married in real life as these four did seem like a family, and I enjoyed the way they displayed their affection, and their disagreements all in silence. It did take a while to get used to Krasinski due to only having seen him in comedy The Office before but he became my favourite character. The creature itself does the tried and tested thing of barely being glimpsed to begin with, then slowly being shown more and more. It had a great design to it and the special effects on it were pretty cool looking. While this has plenty of thrilling moments I wouldn't say it was ever scary in the slightest.
I had expected more of a 28 Days Later road trip type adventure, instead around 95% of the movie takes place over the course of a single bad day in the one location. This managed to fit in both downtime; showing how the family survive day to day life, and also a third act that was very exciting to watch and just seemed to get better and better as it went along. I will admit that I did start to get slightly bored in the middle part of this so it is good that the action really did ramp up. The plot is relatively simple though uses the pregnant woman horror trope seen previously in zombie films. Maybe the worst idea in the world to get pregnant during a sound based monster apocalypse, but that's just me! The prologue sets up a traumatic event for the quartet to get some division over, it was interesting to see how this part (set around a year before the meat of the movie) impacted on the characters. Anyone who has seen any trailer for this can probably guess what the traumatic event was as it featured every time. Was also good that an explanation was never really given for how this world came to be, aside from a few newspaper headlines there is nothing to suggest how this all unfolded.
A Quiet Place did something that felt fresh and different and was given the care and attention to detail to make it work. Occasionally the rules for the creatures seemed a bit flexible but overall it was fine. While not a film that was completely stunning this was still thoroughly enjoyable and well worth a watch.