Mankind has become the prey of toothy beasts that hunt exclusively through auditory perception. Evelyn and Lee Abbott have carved out a silent existence and strive to prevent their brood from becoming banquet in an inventive and effective creature feaster.
This technically accomplished B-movie from John Krasinski is light on exposition and heavy on atmosphere. No grounding is given for the alien invasion, save for a few newspaper headlines, as the film makes its intentions very clear from the intricately taut opening salvo. This is a movie unshakably fixated on its own agenda that is determined to put its audience through the ringer at any cost.
For the most part, A Quiet Place succeeds in its lofty ambitions and is, without doubt, a classy and engaging monster thriller.
The creature design is flawless and the seamless digital effects convey the pure feral malevolence of these menacing beings with unbridled relish. Thier raging ruthlessness is supplemented by anatomical close-ups that adds an organic physicality making them truly nightmarish. They deserve a more expansive exploration in terms of motivation and intellect than is afforded here.
A Quiet Place should be particularly lauded for having the balls to remain uncompromisingly confident in its central creative vision. The long stretches of near silence, so pivotal to the films ultra-high concept show a rare respect for cinema-goers intelligence and attention span.
The audio components were always going to be a deal breaker and the huge sound department more than delivers. Lingering reticence shatters into nerve-shredding shards of jump-scare shrapnel. Completely muted aural snap-shots force character perspectives and desperate attempts to cloak natural panic and pain responses nourish the escalating anxiety.
The consistent stratagem of noise dampening tactics is handled with a laxity and skill that powers the near-constant tension through the films many gaping plot holes.
Make no mistake, this is the best use of sound in a mainstream horror film in recent memory and it will be a serious contender in this category come awards season.
Seeing this flick in a theatre really is essential to the experience as the dead-air becomes entrancingly surreal in a communal context. However loud the popcorn crunching, bag rustling and coughing may seem, what is fascinating is how self-conscious the perpetrators will feel.
Whilst the lack of backstory is not by any means fatal it is frustrating because it dilutes the films emotional impact. The central premise of parental protection is significantly undermined by monumentally selfish, and more importantly contradictory, character decisions.
The foundations of the presented family dynamic are just not stable enough to support these diametric adjudications without explanation and as such A Quiet Place misses a prime opportunity to distil true empathy from the sweat of terror.
That said, as an exercise in set-piece survivalism, A Quiet Place proves an unmissable asset to the current genre renaissance and a heritable step in the evolution of the modern horror film.
Bradley Hadcroft |
Apocalyptic Monster Drama | USA, 2018 | 90 mins | – Terror and some bloody images | Paramount Pictures |CINEMA. UK 5th April 2018 | USA 6th April 2018 | Dir. John Krasinski | Cast. Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Millicent Simmonds