Sunday, 8 April 2018

IN THEATRES: A Quiet Place

An unknown race of creatures who hunt via sound have taken over the earth. On an isolated farm, parents Lee and Evelyn (John Krasinski and Emily Blunt, respectively) attempt to raise their children, all the while trying to protect them from the creatures outside...

What a great little movie!

That may sound condescending, but I mean it with the highest of praise.

a simple scary idea, solid character development and a tight 90 minute runtime. It's like a cool glass of water on a hot day. A Quiet Place is just an exceptionally well-crafted movie that deserves all the success in the world.

Top to bottom, it is just so well done! I’m thinking back to Godzilla (2014), a monster movie that tried to build suspense without showing the monster that much, and this movie smokes it seven ways to Sunday, on a sliver of the budget - and the dialogue. The movie does so much visually and through the performances that you never miss the spoken word. 

The movie is also nerve-shreddingly tense - the sequence involving a pregnant Emily Blunt trying to give birth while trying to not make a sound is absolutely terrifying.

As far as direction goes, Krasinski never puts a foot wrong. Everything is paced so well, and he manages to turn his unseen monsters into tangible threats. He shoots them the way  they should be shot the way they should be - out of focus or half-glimpsed, Krasinski avoids revealing too much of their anatomy, ensuring the viewer never has time to get a good look.

There's an analogy Stephen King used in Danse Macabre where he talks about the fear of the unknown. In his example it is a monster scratching at the door. When the door is opened and the monster is revealed as a 10 foot tall bug, the reader/viewer will immediately process and reframe the image: 'Well, at least it wasn't a 100 foot tall bug." When you don't know what is behind the door, your brain cannot contextualise it and your imagination runs wild. 

And your imagination is going to be doing a lot of work in Quiet Place.

Emily Blunt and John Krasinski are great as the parents Evelyn and Lee. Krasinski could have come across as a post-apocalyptic cliche - the strong silent hard ass. But he finds a vein of empathy that feels more real and interesting. He is a survivalist who recognises that his single-minded focus is affecting his children, and attempts to re-connect with them. 

Blunt, by contrast, is trying to give her children space to be kids. Their performances create  an intimate, believable counterbalance that feels lived-in. They convey a sense of familial warmth and unspoken history that works as a juxtaposition against the monster element of the movie. That's the movie's real success - because this family is so well-drawn it augments the tension. 

As far as the cast goes, the real standout is Millicent Simmonds as the daughter Regan.

After raking Shape of Water for its casting, it is great to see a mainstream genre movie include a disabled character played by a disabled actor. On top of that, it is nice to see a disabled character who is not reduced to their impairment, and has a character arc that is not based on it.

Her character spends the movie guilt-ridden after a fatal error at the beginning of the movie, and Simmonds is excellent - if the stars align, she will be getting more roles after this.

I cannot think anything that this movie does wrong - there are some obvious character beats, a few instances where characters make obvious poor choices but the whole thing is so solid these are minor quibbles. The film is so well-made it even gets away with a heroic death/goodbye that could have been a pile of stinky cheese - this movie earns every moment.

A Quiet Place is one of the best movies I have seen so far this year.

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