So this is the new big horror flick; it’s hugely popular and has lots of appeal and everybody is talking about it…I suppose it’s time to peer into this one myself.
A Quiet Place is, from its opening shot, often just that; in the theater, I could hear popcorn chewing constantly in the first few scenes, because the film is nearly silent for a decent portion of its run time. In that sense, I’m not sure the experience for this film is better in the theater, which is an odd thing to consider, as most often the reverse is more accurate. Despite this, I would argue that the sound design is fine, and there’s tension in the silence that many films will not imitate successfully. Unfortunately, the music was very generic, if not awful. It does not seem to fit the film, except to provide a cheesy “scary scene” vibe. The acceptable noise level within the film’s setup is also very inconsistent, which leads to more confusion. There were also many stereotypical loud noises associated with jump-scare moments, which I felt severely detracted from the film’s premise and apparent intent. Rather, if the only sound during the film had been diegetic, I believe the quality of the experience, and the ingenuity of the film’s creation, would have been improved tremendously.
The actors are surprisingly effective. John Krasinski is very believable as a determined and protective father, and Emily Blunt is, as always, fantastic at portraying every possible emotional state or mood. Frankly, Emily Blunt is one of the most talented actresses working today, and I expect to continue seeing her perform wonderfully. The child actors are mostly just fine, but the daughter, played by an actual deaf actress, is very convincing and seems fairly talented. I was impressed with the film’s treatment of deafness as more than just a plot convenience for the sake of the entire family needing to know sign language.
The effects are pretty good, and I enjoyed seeing the monsters as often as they were shown. Many similarly crafted horror flicks will deny the viewer a chance to see the monster properly until the end of the film, so that the reveal of the creature itself is a big surprise. I always felt that was often a sort of cheap tactic, and it isn’t very creative, however much money it saves for the production. With that in mind, the creature designs were relatively unique and quite effective in intimidation; that is, they fit well with the premise and seemed horrific enough to illicit great fear in the characters.
The film’s cinematography is competent, or perhaps good, but it isn’t too special. I would have loved some tracking shots of the monsters, but it’s mostly simple cuts between characters. In fact, there’s virtually no time in the film which lacks a member of the main family in view, which, considering this strange dystopia of a setting, seemed somewhat bland. There were a few shots of their home and its basic surroundings, but there’s little sense of geographic locations within the film, and we are given precious little of what has happened outside of their home area. I am not demanding buckets of information dumped over my head, but the vagueness with which the film operates seems purposeful in scope, and I felt it would be better off answering some questions viewers may have regarding the rest of the world, even if it is with a few simple cuts to other towns or countries.
I won’t spoil the specific events of the film, but I encourage viewers to pay close attention to the last third or so of the run time. In a way, I appreciated the chaotic fervor of this final act, but it also detracted so heavily from what made the silence of the beginning so fascinating, that I found myself disappointed when reflecting on the film later. There are also some strange inconsistencies in character behavior and the monsters’ senses, which bothered me during the film. I do not always notice such issues immediately, but I was displeased by my own befuddlement. There were many clever moments and ideas regarding the dampening or avoidance of loud sounds with the characters, only for general clumsiness and terrible decisions to force new moments of tension. I see a realism in this to a degree, but I found that certain plot devices were overly contrived.
This one is Satisfactory. It isn’t terrible by any means, and I certainly enjoyed parts of it, but enough of it seemed generic or wasted in potential that I simply wanted more from the ideas and the experience. I would still take interest in the future work of that deaf actress, as well as John Krasinski’s directorial efforts, as that was not much of a problem here. I should quickly note that A Quiet Place had 2 other writers aside from Krasinski, and I have never seen or heard about any of the films they have previously written, which, considering my general knowledge base of cinema, should have been a red flag. With a better script, this could have been amazing.