Review by C.J. Bunce
Last year’s winner for most surprising film to be discussing at the water cooler was A Quiet Place, a uniquely quiet but suspenseful horror thriller that held back the true nature of the threat in its previews similar to Midnight Special, Signs, and 10 Cloverfield Lane. And as with those films we’re definitely looking at an otherworldly threat for the film’s protagonists. Critics and audiences seemed to go for this mix of sci-fi and horror, possibly out of an affinity for director and co-star John Krasinski (The Office, Jack Ryan) and his on and off-camera wife, co-star Emily Blunt (Mary Poppins Returns, The Adjustment Bureau, Edge of Tomorrow). It’s now streaming on most major platforms, including Amazon Prime, Vudu, Hulu, YouTube, Google Play, and Fandango, as well as Blu-ray, 4K, and DVD.
Few movies were hyped in 2018 as much as A Quiet Place, although come awards season it only received a nomination for best sound editing and Emily Blunt took home the Screen Actors Guild Award for supporting actress, despite her clearly starring role in the film. If there is a reason to watch the movie it’s for Blunt, who steals the show in any film she appears in. In A Quiet Place, for better or worse, she lets go from an acting standpoint and offers up a beginning-to-end melodramatic and possibly over-the-top emotional performance, similar to her portrayal as an amnesiac in The Girl on the Train. Some subtlety would have been a good thing, because in contrast to her ever-stoic husband she comes off as hysterical. We’ll chalk this up to a quirky misstep by an inexperienced director (it’s also an instance of his character doing all the smart and brave things, and Blunt’s all the dumb things, which gets old quickly).
But this one has been done before, especially as seen in the above-referenced films, and multiple episodes of The Twilight Zone. The plot is thin. A family of five are among the only people living (on Earth? in the region? we don’t know). A blind insectoid alien menace (think Blunt in Edge of Tomorrow only here she’s not the badass Angel of Verdun) will slaughter anything and anyone it hears with its sonic-locator brain. So everyone is quiet all the time. Only they aren’t–we hear them make all sorts of body and movement noises for the first half of the film, only to learn later from the father that they don’t listen for soft noises. The daughter of the family (played by Millicent Simmonds) is deaf, and so she doesn’t know when noises are happening around her, leading to the key dire circumstances throughout the film. The audience can’t help but put themselves in the positions of the characters. What would you do? Unfortunately the film is full of many tropes like you’d find in teen slasher flicks: so many times characters make decisions that are similar to a teen walking outside their cabin in a thunderstorm at night in their underwear after hearing a mass murderer is on the loose. Any viewer would think the circumstances are more dire than the characters in A Quiet Place.
If you’ve seen a lot of science fiction, you’ve seen this movie before, and it doesn’t add much to the genre. If you like any of the actors, it’s also an easy film to watch to see their latest work, although don’t be surprised if you yell at the screen throughout the movie pointing out plot holes and stupid decisions made by the characters and/or the three script writers. But production designer Jeffrey Beecroft and visual effects supervisor Scott Farrar have created some great alien monsters, on par with Starship Troopers, but with that startling nature of the creatures in Attack the Block and Signs.
At least at home you can now yell at the screen all you want.
Look for a good performance by the young Cade Woodward, who conjures Cary Guffey’s Barry from Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
And yes, a sequel is in the works.
Mainstream audiences went for this in the theaters and you might, too, especially if you’re a fan of Blunt or Krasinski. Check out A Quiet Place now on your favorite streaming platform, here on Amazon Prime, or here on Blu-ray/DVD or 4K Combo.