★★★★★ Out of ★★★★★
A white-knuckle instant classic. Believe the hype!
If you have been following this Website, you will know that I have been anxiously waiting for A Quiet Place to be released, and with all the positive advanced buzz, I couldn’t help but worry that my expectations had been raised too high. I need not have worried, this movie was all I had hoped for and more. First things first… you really should go see this in a packed theater. There is something extremely compelling about a full house being hushed into holding their collective breath along with the characters on screen. People stopped eating their popcorn, so self-conscious they were about not wanting to disturb the silence. In my theater, amazingly, somebody brought a BABY into the theater. Fortunately, the baby didn’t cry but it did coo and gurgle, but that had the mom hustle out of the theater because it was so tangibly audible. The wonderful irony here is that the Abbott family is expecting a baby, and in a world where silence is survival, that baby poses some serious issues.
Another thing about a really quiet audience is that when someone else in the theater whispers, you can hear them from three rows away, and I heard a couple nervously point out what the whole audience was thinking… how is Evelyn (Emily Blunt) possibly going to be able to birth a baby silently? Well… watch and see! I would expect that with all the positive word-of-mouth you’ll be able to find a packed theater. Seeing this at home would lessen the experience, I think.
SPOILER ALERTS AHEAD
We join the Abbots in the middle of a supply gathering mission. I can’t remember anybody’s names actually mentioned in the film, as communication is at a minimum, but handily IMDB is here to assist with the names. The middle son, Marcus, has fallen ill, and they need medicine. We are introduced to the spunky and defiant youngest child Beau, the clever and headstrong (and later we find out… deaf) older sister Regan, and the parents Evelyn and Lee (John Krasinski, also the director) who have managed to carefully navigate their family through the early stages of an apparent alien infestation in rural upstate New York. That’s actually a guess as to the location, as they never mention where they are, but the movie was filmed in upstate New York. It’s an absolutely lovely setting, but the family learns a terrible lesson about the necessity to remain quiet. Kids naturally get fidgety and bored and will succumb to minor rebellions, and that is a recipe for disaster in this new alien infested environment.
Fast forward a couple year from that date, and the family has managed to survive (mostly) and Evelyn, as mentioned before, is now pregnant. We get to see the family’s daily routines as they go about their business, and Lee attempts to make contact with the outside world via ham radio. We learn how terrifyingly sensitive the creatures are, and that even a clatter from inside the house could draw unwanted attention. The family communicates in sign language, and at the most, in whispers. We also find out that there are other surviving neighbors in the valley, as the community will lite signal fires to announce that they are OK. These aliens, though supersonically sensitive, are blind.
Fast forward again a few months, and Evelyn is close to her delivery date. It becomes time for Lee to teach the Marcus how to help hunt and gather, and as Marcus despairs about leaving the farm, Regan, clearly the braver child sets off on her own side mission, even though she was instructed to take care of her mom. So, we have a confluence of events where the family gets separated. Evelyn’s water breaks, and we get a scene… several scenes actually, that set up perhaps the most ominous scene involving a nail ever put into a movie. I could hear the collective groan when the nail got foreshadowed. You knew there was going to be a payoff, and a nasty one at that. You’ll know it when you see it. The aliens, when they show up are fantastic looking. They are powerful enough to rip through sheet metal, very fast, and sneaky stalkery hunters. They remind me a bit of the creature from Pitch Black or the Demogorgon from Stranger Things. Not wholly original, but when you see them do their sonic sensory trick, they are convincing critters.
I will not give up the spoils on the act III conclusion, but suffice it to say, EVERYONE is at risk. Mistakes get made, brilliant insights are made, and heroic actions cover for mistakes, only to get foiled by unforeseen circumstances. The narrative in act three is a Swiss watch. Everything works perfectly for dramatic tension. In this movie sometimes you have to remember to breathe. I remember a similar situation with the 2016 film Don’t Breathe where I found myself holding my breath with the protagonists. This movie passes Eric’s #1 rule with flying colors. You really wanted to see this family make it. The family worked so hard, and planned so carefully, that to see things go so sideways can be painful to watch. There were two moments where I covered my face… and I almost never do that!
The ending of the movie I would call bittersweet. It’s part tragic, part triumphant. It avoids both the gotcha jump scare cliche, and the too-good-to-be-true happy ending. It earns the ending it gets, and I think it gets it right. I’m sure that there are some who would want the classic bleak apocalyptic ending, and some who prefer the heroes winning the day, but neither scenario would be an ideal fit for those ending. Again, kudos to the writers! All of the plot and character details pay off. What you learn early in the movie has ramifications towards the end. The only plot hole that I would perceive is why the Abbots didn’t either move closer to the river, where their voices are masked, or try and really insulate the house from external noise. They had smartly figured out both of these strategies but didn’t follow them fully. Oh, to be an acoustic engineer in this world! Personally, I would want to live in a lighthouse, with the waves crashing to mask all of my noises, and the acoustic isolation of a big masonry building like a lighthouse. I probably would have gotten nabbed early in this environment, as I am a loud talker, and I snore. Soooo… Eric would not be long for the world of A Quiet Place.
Don’t be surprised come next February that A Quiet Place could get some Oscar Buzz for Krasinski’s direction, Emily Blunt’s acting, and the writing team of Bryan Woods, Scott Beck, and Krasinski. Jordan Peele paved the way for more horror films to get recognized. And a well-made highly profitable genre film just might make it two years in a row for horror pictures at the Academy Awards. This film has already gotten off to a great Box Office Start, ($19 million on Friday alone) and believe it or not, this was a Michael Bay production, through his production company Platinum Dunes. So ironic that he of the big boom and the chaotic mess of the Transformers films could do something this sublime and tightly scripted.
This is why I got into being a genre film reviewer. I get to promote top fare like this. More, please! Actually… no sequel, please. But more movies LIKE this.
A Quiet Place is Rated PG-13, and is playing in theaters now. Go see it!