A Quiet Place

A Quiet Place ★★★★½

I was concerned that I would get stuck with an annoying audience that would ruin the tension. Thankfully, my theater managed to be a quiet place ... Sorry.

The premise of this movie alone piqued my interest. I was further intrigued by the suspenseful trailers and the cast and crew involved, making this one of my most anticipated films of the year. Watching The Office, I would not have pegged Krasinski as a promising horror director, but A Quiet Place has me very excited to watch his career continue to grow.

This film's premise feels fully realized. The idea of being unable to make a sound without the risk of death is not only unsettling, but kind of depressing. We see how this family has to take such heavy precautions and frustratingly limit their everyday tasks. And as the film progresses, the problems they face and the setups they find themselves in get more and more complicated and unenviable. It also makes it all the more of a decompressor when the characters do get their precious few opportunities to speak in safety. 

It's actually kind of a miracle that they have any semblance of optimism left within them. But this can somewhat speak to their bond. Scenarios like this often tend to strip people down to their core selves, and this usually means our darker sides emerge. But this family somehow maintains a consistently strong bond. There is, however, a sense of isolation within one character, stemming from something that happens near the beginning of the film. The conflict arising from this feels very real, and adds to the layers of torment this family must be feeling.

My only issue with the story is that its resolution is a little overly-simple. Don't get me wrong, parts of it are quite emotional, and the final shot is very satisfying, but a particular aspect of it was one I felt had no depth and was unable to measure up to the other emotional moments of the film. I just thought, "Oh, okay then." There may be some deeper meaning or symbolic element I'm missing, however, so if you feel differently, feel free to let me know (the aspect in question involves a gadget that Lee makes, for those who've seen it).

This is a movie that lives and dies with its tension - if it can't deliver in that regard, it's pretty much dead on arrival. Thankfully, this film is tense literally from the very first frame. The establishing shots of the world and what it's become since the rise of the creatures are dreary, meditative, and very eerie. This continues throughout most of the movie. As the camera slowly pans through each location, there is a near-constant shiver down the spine that puts the audience in a state of paranoia. It also helps that there are many long scenes with no music playing - just the unsettling silence. 

In fact, the film as a whole has this going for it: excellent cinematography and beautifully-framed shots that put the audience right in the moment with this family. Even when the film becomes more high-adrenaline, this tense filmmaking remains intact. Though there are long stretches of silence, the score is quite good when it does kick in, from the somber pieces to the more intense ones. And the creatures themselves look phenomenal. Their designs are menacing, they have a chilling presence, and are brought to life by excellent, seamless special effects. Overall, A Quiet Place succeeds in all its important aspects; the thrilling moments feel just as potent as the more meditative ones. 

This excellent directing, combined with the constant threat of the creatures, makes even the most non-threatening, subtle sounds feel like a frightening jolt. At every single point of the movie, I was constantly paying attention to how much noise everyone makes, like an itch that wouldn't leave. At one point, someone in my audience coughed and it actually startled others nearby, that's how thick the tension was. 

This does, however, make it a little annoying whenever the movie falls into more lazy horror scares. There are a small handful of false jump-scares here; characters are startled by something that turns out to be harmless, and a loud jolt accompanies it. I personally really dislike this trope. Thankfully it doesn't show up enough times to be too damaging to the film, but it is still my biggest flaw, especially because the rest of the film feels like it should be above such tricks.

The atmosphere is only further cemented by the characters. It must be a challenge to have the characters convey their thoughts and emotions almost exclusively without speaking, but their facial expressions and visual emotions, whether the characters are terrified, tense, or even at times calm and at peace. Krasinski in particular knocked it out of the park in this regard. You're able to pick up relatively quickly what kind of person he is just from his expressions and physical gestures. Emily Blunt, one of my favorite actors working today, is once again excellent. Her character arguably goes through the most hardships in the film and you feel every single excruciating moment of it. She has one scene in particular that is, quite frankly, one of the most unpleasant, unsettling, and frightening scenarios I've seen a movie character go through in years. You'll know it when you see it. Both parents have great chemistry and powerful moments with their kids, who also turn in great performances.

I'm very happy this film turned out to be a success, both in regards to its quality and its amazing Box Office performance. It's earned all of its success, and it makes me all the more excited to see John Krasinski flourish. My few gripes aside, he's shown he has the potential to become one of the great heavy-hitters of cinema today.

🎃👻Joe Tomastik👻🎃 liked these reviews

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