Enjoy the Silence: A review of 'A Quiet Place'
Possible SPOILERS ahead: This is just a review of the terrifying new horror movie A Quiet Place, and I will try not to give too much away. However, if you are one of those oddballs who prefers to know nothing about a movie before you see it - stop now and come back later. 'Kay?
Have you ever really sat in silence during a movie? I mean, really, really, total and utter silence. You may think you have, but until you see the new movie A Quiet Place, you have not actually sat there in total silence like you will with this film. This is a suspense horror film that truly begs to be seen in a movie theater, because the shared experience here really adds to the horror. You must see this with other people. You just do.
In the film, the world is barely hanging on. Civilization has been sent back to the stone age because horrific creatures have come from - somewhere. They exist only to attack and destroy people and that is all they do. They never seem to stop and they do nothing but kill. They are never full and they have tremendous teeth and armored bodies and they do not stop. They have one weakness: they're blind. The problem? They are so sensitive to sound that almost any tiny noise is enough to allow them to pinpoint where the noise is coming from and fast enough that they destroy whatever they hear in seconds.
This is the world that we get set before us in the first few seconds of this terrific and suspenseful new movie out now. You have probably heard about it because it has generated a lot of hype. The good news is that this movie lives up to that hype in spades and then surpasses it. John Krasinksi is making his directorial debut here and, man, I wish he'd pick one of my books to direct next because he does a great job.
There are special effects in this horror film, but they are used to create the creature. The truly effective and amazing thing Krasinski does is create people. His fictional family (with his real life wife, Emily Blunt) are real. You buy that they are a family and when tragedy strikes very early on, it serves to explain why the family behaves the way it does throughout the rest of the film.
You feel a part of this family. Without doing much in terms of fancy camera tricks or anything that really dazzles us (there is no "creature vision" where we see the world in terms of sound, for example), Krasinksi puts us right there with his wife and two kids. One of those kids is Regan and she's deaf, which sets her apart and ends up helping her in a way I will not tell you now.
They are prepping for the birth of their new baby, which adds tension to the plot as we wonder how exactly you make it so a baby makes no sound so that the creatures cannot find them. We are pulled into this world fast and then held there by the scary, spiny, clawed and toothed creatures that hide within the forest and stalk the planet looking for people to devour.
I cannot express to you how this affects the theater. Yes, there is music and there are noises within this film, but it is essentially a silent movie. It opens up the eye of the camera and our own eyes, so we find ourselves not wanting to make a sound, a whisper, crinkle a candy bag or take a sip of soda. It affects us, as if these creatures might turn from the screen and reach out and grab someone right from the audience and bite the in half in front of us.
This movie creates a shared experience like nothing I have seen. Your eyes wander the screen, looking in corners for things that are moving, things that are coming. The silence builds and builds and you get closer and closer to the edge of your seat until you nearly fall off.
The scene with Emily Blunt in the bathtub is going to go down in horror movie history as one of the best horror scenes ever. Up there with the little girl spinning hear head around in The Exorcist or Mia Farrow asking "what happened to his eyes?" about her own baby in Rosemary's Baby or the shower scene in Psycho or on and on. It is a masterpiece in terror and suspense that Blunt carries entirely on her own and with the look on her face. It is unrelenting.
A Quiet Place is excellent thriller cinema. It is meant to be seen rather than read. It could never have been a novel first. It must be seen and it should be seen with a theater full of people on a screen that you can lose yourself in.
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