A Quiet Place

A Quiet Place ★★½

The big movie everyone wanted to talk about, to the point that I heard all about it nonstop in the months to follow, was A Quiet Place, a spooky movie about having to stay quiet, lest you be hunted down be unusual creatures who hunt by sound. Sure, the premise is original enough even when compared to other similar movies like The Descent or Hush (which, yes, is a pedantic point as long as the execution's different) and the thought of John Krasinski trying out a horror flick after being defined as Jim "Big Tuna" Halpert and two independent dramedy films is certainly eye-catching, but both of those wouldn't necessarily equate to the most-talked about horror film of 2018, would it? Well, unless one counts Hereditary's very polarizing response to the public that saw it, evidently yes it would, creating not only fans eager for its sequel and people like me experiencing a sort of backlash over the fundamental flaws blanketed over by hyperbolic praise.

As the world crumbles in apocalyptic times over surviving in a world invaded by blind aliens, so too does the internal logic of the film slowly crumble until it gives way for complete unsatisfactory. The acceptable level of audible sound constantly fluctuates based on any given scene, sometimes the sound of a lantern breaking not truly being enough to draw attention, sometimes the sound of a picture frame breaking being enough, all the while muddling up what gets the creatures closer simply because the script demands it. There's also the possibility of other bodily functions that are ignored simply because it would break the lore Krasinski tries to build, not to mention other instances of lackadaisical factors into the rules that aren't carefully considered or handwaved enough like the loud river nearby (you're telling me that a raccoon can still survive over a year and just NOW be caught and killed. They have a reputation for sneaking into the night, but they're still dumb animals that make noise every now and then). I realize over-analyzing some of the holes here would be considered nitpicking to a degree, and one has to consider "suspension of disbelief", but there's just so much shit here that takes me out of the film simply because of how often I have to think out of frustration over what works and what doesn't based on the guidelines set up here.

I have to think about that a lot because there's not much in the film proper to really keep me that invested into it. On the surface it is neat that a majority of the film's dialogue is communicated through sign language, and that its subtle approach is a marked improvement from many other attempts at horror that jut in what's telegraphed as scary as a replacement for atmospheric build-up (it's an acknowledged influence, but Krasinski at least makes good on holding off the full view of the creatures in a similar manner to Alien). The problem lies in how artificially it creates suspense, relying on quickly-resolved misfortune after misfortune that creates a stop-and-go feeling that never feels natural (after all, as the classics state, if it's been a while since you've startled the audience, throw in a creepy screaming old man for good measure). In its final act it just keeps throwing out alien after alien, conveniently moving slow despite the super-speed established just an hour ago, capping things off with an increasingly-tedious finale that fails at being suspenseful and ends up as a total disappointment to an already underwhelming beginning and middle.

My rampant pessimism towards A Quiet Place may not be entirely unwarranted, as the extent of my disinterest was mere boredom rather than misery, and does have some elements I do quite like. Emily Blunt and John Krasinski both radiate the fearful adult panic that their roles need and are damn good at being the realistic anchor to the illogical mess around them. Each of the aliens do have a grotesque look to them that's surely impressive based on the relative low-budget at play here, even if the potential fear factor is rushed and mitigated near the end. There is the inkling of a true-to-life theme of parental fear over losing one's children after a traumatic loss shown early on that does stay throughout, but is barely prominent and is quickly swallowed up by the asinine decisions and leaps of logic made here. I tried, I really did, but I fail to see what made the hype worth it and my interest for its sequel has pretty much died down (not that it was very high to begin with).

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