|UK Release Date||5th April 2018|
|Starring||Emily Blunt, John Krasinski|
|Reviewed||13th May 2018|
Ironically for a movie that prominently features silence, this one completely sneaked up on me. To be entirely honest, returning from an extended trip, I was looking for something entirely undemanding and entertaining on my return from the world of tiny aeroplane screens. I picked a good one to start back with.
Set at an indeterminate point in the future, well, the exact number of days into the future are shown on screen but it’s unclear what this is counting after, A Quiet Place doesn’t lead us into the state of things gently. It quickly becomes clear as the family search an abandoned but still weirdly full supermarket that something catastrophic has happened to human life on the earth. The movie soon makes this spectacularly clear as the family pad back over carefully placed sand towards their homestead. It would be a shame to go into the exact reveal of the creatures that stalk the planet, relying entirely on sound to hunt their prey, but suffice to say, a silent scream as never sounded so loud.
The film jumps forward nearly a year at this point and we pick up with Emily Blunt’s Evelyn Abbot, now pregnant and preparing the family home for this joyously noisy event. Along with husband Lee (John Krasinski, on directing duties as well), youngest child Marcus (Noah Jupe) and deaf daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds), Evelyn has made a home amongst the wreckage of civilisation. Their farm is now custom built for silence and the cellar is gradually becoming a bunker of soundproofing for their ticking time bomb of a baby. The family grind out an existence as Lee continues to try and work out what makes the creatures tick and develop a hearing aid that actually works for his daughter.
The proscribing of a primary form of communication is fertile ground for a horror movie. In the void left by natural communication, minds stray and the ever continuing need to concentrate on not making a sound is exhausting to watch. Regan suffers especially from the one thing that meant her family could easily adapt to the life changing events. Already conversant in sign language, the family were presumably at an immediate advantage when the creatures struck but for Regan herself, the need to not make a sound must be overwhelmingly terrifying. How would she know if she brushed an item onto the floor as she passed? The consequences of living in such isolating terror are daunting to say the least.
Every element of family life is overshadowed by the deafening silence that must be maintained. A minor accident playing Monopoly begins a series of events that threatens the family's existence and threatens to undo all the endless hard work. Releases are rare, laughter is obviously muted and it’s only when in the presence of a louder, naturally occuring form of noise that anyone gets to release their tension.
Krasinski has absolutely no form whatsoever for this kind of movie but that matters not, here he builds a wonderfully tense world with his family. Eking out every drop of tension from the enforced silence in a movie that is far from silent itself, Krasinski presents us with a family doing its absolute best to be as normal as possible in circumstances that are far from normal. The family themselves are universally brilliant, in particular the excellent Simmonds. As with all families, this is far from a perfect unit, everyone has their own issues and the building tension of a potentially lethally noisy arrival adds to the already cracking family unit’s stress levels.
A Quiet Place isn’t a perfect movie, I spent a good deal of it silently screaming the entirely obvious answer to dealing with the creatures and there are a number of issues with the world the movie inhabits (it’s not clear where the family’s electricity comes from for example) but there’s nothing here that can’t be suspended in your enjoyment of what is an excellent horror. As with all the best horrors, the fear here is manifest on any number of levels and, shorn of the one release horror victims usually get, the family here have to endure without recourse to screaming (even at each other). Featuring a number of scenes that are almost too tense to watch (man or woman, you will squirm like hell at the bathtub scene), a genuinely realistic family unit and some excellent use of barely glimpsed CGI creatures, the movie easily transcends its B movie trappings and deliveries an exacting exercise in silent discomfort.