"Who are we if we can't protect them? We have to protect them." - Evelyn Abbott
In a post-apocalyptic world Lee Abbott, his wife Evelyn, and their three children are fighting to survive. Seems a rogue monster horde has somehow been unleashed, never explained, and they hunt by sound. So to stay alive you search for supplies and more importantly stay quiet as the least sound alerts the monsters. Naturally things don't go well and one of the kids becomes a monster chew toy, much to the horror of the rest of the family.
Bounce a year into the future and Evelyn is pregnant, that can't be good, and the family are still keeping things together. Naturally it's not going to be plain sailing as youngsters becoming teens and find the confines of their world a little restrictive. Another tragedy will set in motion a final battle for the family and maybe just a hint of a light at the end of the tunnel. Buckle up kids; we're talking a creature feature, mixed in with some Sci-Fi, and horror of horrors a family drama. Oh my God how are horror fans going to cope, let's get into the back roads of desolation U.S.A.
The premise of A Quiet Place is pretty familiar to horror fans, a small group of survivors doing what they can in the ashes which pretty much turns into a siege narrative as they come to the attention of the antagonists hunting down the remnants of the human race. For sure this forms the basis of any number of zombie narratives, including the ongoing Walking Dead saga and has a lineage straight back to the Vincent Price lead classic The Last Man on Earth (1964), and which has more recently informed It Comes at Night (2017). What makes John Krasinski's A Quiet Place stand out from what's becoming a crowded midnight train to hell is the drama laden delivery of the narrative. If you ever wanted to see a horror movie that plays in the big league then this is that movie, it could be this generation's The Exorcist. Whoa hold back on the vitriol kids, let me explain things, and yes there is a fundamental plot hole in the script that blared out to me but which most people seem to have papered over.
The movie gets out of the blocks in startlingly good fashion with the Abbott family ransacking an abandoned supermarket that looks to have been pretty much picked clean already. The first thing we learn is that survival is dependent on staying as quiet as a church mouse. This gets enforced when the family are heading home and the youngest son decides to play with a space toy that his sister has given him in secret after his father definitely stopped the kid from taking it. Surprisingly, and no this isn't the plot hole, the toy still works churning out the sort of high pitched sounds that I guess little kids enjoy. For sure the local monsters enjoy the sound, in a sort of hunting fashion, notch up the first victim for the evening in a sudden attack that had me sitting up taking notes. The scene is well framed and isn't playing simply as a jump scare; it gets us straight into the story and had me doing the happy naked dance, perhaps way too much information there.
From there we gradually learn that the family communicate using standard American Sign Language, daughter Regan is deaf, family members walk around bare foot, and they do spend a lot of time underground. The surprising thing is that the movie is pretty much quiet through the vast majority of its run time but keeps our attention firmly glued to the screen through the tension director John Krasinski builds continually. The old adage of hearing a pin drop is pretty pertinent here. There are some surprise twists to keep the plot flowing, Lee Abbott has a short wave radio he uses to try and contact other survivors, a conversation masked by a waterfall, the chance meeting of a stranger in the forest, and of course all those teenage hormones getting in the way of the Abbott ordered life.
While the quietness of the movie is certainly unnerving, yes I was getting the odd goose bump as the events unfolded, that needs to be the case as the long limbed creatures don't pass muster once light is shined on them. Yes we are talking CGI and a certain deja vu in the design, can't put my finger on it but there's a sense I've seen the monsters before somewhere. In a strange sense I was reminded of the vampires in Priest (2011), hey guilty pleasure right there. But, and here's the thing, like all movies travelling the same dark back road A Quiet Place is less about the monsters prowling the edges of that road and more about the survivors doing the travelling.
To be honest director John Krasinski drops his pants and shows us what he's got way too early, there's no concern about what we can expect as the movie unfolds, there's no surprise factor waiting to take a huge bite out of the audience. For sure in any creature feature you need to eventually show the monster but for heck's sake keep something lurking in the darkness rather than throwing on the high beams as soon as the audience has settled in with the popcorn. As stated the monsters aren't exactly bringing anything new to the meal but once again they are more the background threat than the central focus.
Got to say the whole pregnancy and birth issue had me gripping the armrests, no way in hell you are going to keep that quiet, and babies, well loud doesn't begin to describe those things. And yes Kransinski derives every bit of tension he can from the situation and for sure the ever present dangers are just that much more intense due to it. Life in the ashes, guess that's never going to throw up easy options and Mrs Abbott finds a completely new use for a bathtub thought to be honest this didn't involve any rushed trips to Lush.
Guess I can't put this off much longer, to the horror requirements folks and to be honest there's going to be a few disappointed vegemites reading this. T&A is completely off the table unless you count fully naked CGI monsters, oh yeah. Likewise the violence isn't front and centre; yes we do get a body count, being three, but don't expect blood and guts splashing the screen, Krasinski isn't about to show murder and mayhem during his family drama. Nope wasn't missing any of that, the movie is strong enough to not need decorations. Besides keeping the family theme up, which naturally involves sacrifice, the kills are necessary to advance the plot and give us viewers more information in regards the creatures.
An outstanding cast kept me rocking along to the excellent visuals, I forgot to mention the location shots which are superb. Special note of Emily Blunt (Evelyn Abbott), who dabbles now and again in the dark genre, who delivered a wide eyed and mannered performance that had me applauding every scene she appeared in. Equally Millicent Simmonds (Regan Abbott) announced herself to the world with an outstanding turn as the deaf young teen who caused the death of her younger brother but still somehow blames her father for the situation. Actually that does setup the foundations for something which happens later in the movie as Krasinski delivers his Disney moment. So strong small cast that ramped A Quiet Place up, and no Regan's actions aren't the plot hole.
I rocked along to the movie and had a fine old time with it, nothing like a claustrophic drama to get your blood running. Director Krasinski knocks it out of the ball park and gets the best he can out of an outstanding cast. The visuals are awesome, the tension and atmosphere are ramped up to high, and the horror tone rings true. Guess I should mention the obvious plot hole; people have been waiting all review for this right? Regan finds a flaw in the almost indestructible monsters, well okay a shotgun blast to the head will do the trick, involving a hearing aid and an obvious weakness in the creatures. Stay with me here, earlier in the movie there are some newspapers strategically placed for the audience to read the headlines, seems the creatures hunt by sound, were the newspapers a homage to Romero's Day of the Dead? So the printing presses are still running, society is still functioning in some fashion, the military couldn't MacGyver something together? It took me about five minutes of learning about the whole keep silent thing to wonder why a sound based weapon hadn't been developed, surely the back room boys in development hadn't been jacking off while the brown stuff hit the fan.
So besides that little trip into movie logic, which I guess could be explained if you spent your time being an apologist for the movie, I was pretty much bouncing to what was happening on my screen. There were no loose ends, the script was tighter than a Lib Government's purse, and the acting was above average. Full recommendation on this one kids, one of those movies that will have you wanting more than one screening in case you missed something. Was the movie quiet, hell yeah, was that a problem, hell no, I've found my go to quiet place and I'm happy there. Perhaps the only movie I've watched where a room full of women didn't need to talk during the run time. Ladies send in your #metoo complaints, but seriously you should catch this movie, chicks are going to rock out to it.