Right off the bat, A Quite Place is tense. We open with a scene of the family, consisting of two parents, played by Emily Blunt, from The Devil Wears Prada and Sicario, and John Krasinski, of the American Office, who also wrote and directed the film, and their three children. However, the youngest child, a four-year-old, makes the mistake of playing with a plastic-rocket ship that lights up and makes a sound, a sound that attracts the monsters. We are immediately shown the world, its rules, the stakes and the creatures and we know the consequences for breaking those rules. The film then slowly builds on issues that mean the characters have to bend those rules.
The film is set in the near future, shortly after the Earth is hounded by sightless hypersensitive monsters. A family living on an isolated farm try to live a normal life despite the shocking loss that they have all faced.
The main draw of the film is its masterful use of sound and silence to draw us into the world of these characters. You also listen out for the sounds that the characters are making, checking that they aren’t too loud. Similarly, the quiet makes every single sound shockingly loud. For instance, early on in the film, the family are going about their routine, Emily Blunt’s mother is cooking soft foods and Krasinski is out doing maintenance while the two remaining children are doing various things. After the family finish dinner, the kids play Monopoly with pieces of felt, rolling dice onto the carpet. However one of the children knocks over a gas lamp that promptly sets the floor on fire. The sound of the breaking glass and the woompf as the wooden floor is set ablaze was startling yes, but then the tension begins as you start to wonder whether the creatures are going to arrive and begin to rip the family to shreds. It was a reverse jump scare in a way that is nailbiting.
This is made all the worse by the film allowing us time with our main characters. We get to know them through the film and their relationships with each other, which fleshes them out and makes them real people. Thus you fear for their lives because you have grown to care for them, you know them, and you want them to survive. They are the main focus of the film, the monsters are secondary, which is novel for a horror film. Blunt and Krasinski obviously have chemistry as they are married in real life and individually they are strong performers. Emily sells one of the tensest moments of the film and her pain and terror through-out made my heart almost leap through my chest. Krasinski holds his emotions closer to his chest, but his performance is none-the-less emotional. He apparently cares for his family and will do anything to protect them but, due to his situation, he is under constant vigilance. These two are potent characters that strike a real cord; their performance and chemistry are captivating.
A Quiet Place does have its issues. The climax of the film gets tiring with so many things happening one after the other as the family go from one dangerous situation to another without any rest-bite. The final solution is a little silly; I figured it out when the first instance happened and I was close to yelling at the screen to do what they eventually did to solve their issues. Similarly, the last shot breaks the tone of the rest of the film, turning it from a quiet, meditative family horror film to some sort of action film, like the way Alien went to Aliens.
Apart from those issues though, A Quiet Place is a solid debut from a director that I will be keeping my eye on. It has heart and characters to spend time with rather than slabs of meat there to die for my enjoyment. It also has a creative world, and some decent, ingenious scares and tension to make this a well-rounded horror film.
You can watch A Quiet Place in cinemas now
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