A Quiet Place: Review
A Quiet Place is a very clever film with some conceits. The film opens cold, with no explanations, to show a town recently deserted. The camera pushes into a drug store where we find a family slowly wandering around. They are making as little sound as possible. The mother (Evelyn Abbot, played by Emily Blunt) reaches for some pills. Her youngest boy (Beau played by Cade Woodward) reaches for a toy NASA Challenger. Dad (Lee played by John Krasinski) says no. The boy puts it down. But just before leaving the store his sister (Regina played by Millicent Simmonds) hands it to him.
While they are on a bridge heading home, the little brother takes the spaceship out of his things and waves it around over his head. The toy spaceship makes a very audible whirling sound. Before the father can do anything, a nondescript, monster whisks through the brush, denying the audience any clear view, grabbing the boy and takes him away to what is clearly his death. The audience can interpret this event because it is preceded by a camera shot of a bulletin board in the abandoned town which features notices for lost people, reminiscent of 9/11 New York street posters for the missing. It is implied that the creatures are blind, seem to have little or no olfactory sense, but can hear the slightest sound over a broad expanse of space.
The family keeps silent and returns to their farm. “Stay Alive” is their motto which is printed on their home white board. While morning for their youngest son, they return to their routine. The daughter is deaf, so they know and use sign language to protect themselves. Their life continues in survival mode, and they seem to be able to avoid their hunters. They have plenty of delicious looking food to eat and water to drink. They somehow have electric power in a world under attack. The family survives like this for way over a year.
The truly exciting part comes when the mother is giving birth. Her muffled low, deep moans attract the monsters, and all hell breaks loose. The monsters, which feast on humans, or at least, attack them with killing power, are drawn towards her. At the same times, the children get lost in the woods, Hansel and Gretel style. The kids save themselves, but a monster nears the girl. Her jerry-rigged hearing aid emits that high pitched tone as when old people turn up their hearing aids too high. The monster seems to be annoyed by that high buzzing sound. This hints at the weakness of the beasts.
This is a high class unique horror movie with good acting and pacing. It’s more outlined than scripted, but the lean script that exists fits well with the premise. It still has the problems of most horror movies though. In the woods, the kids get into peril and make “the stupid move” that is made in all horror movies. The first conceit is the girl is deaf, so the family gets a leg up in defending themselves. The second conceit is the father can communicate with the outside world because he happens to be a ham radio operator with tons of equipment and the third conceit, he can see all around the farm because he is handy with surveillance cameras. Also, he strings Christmas lights all over the farm that can change colors and provide a warning signal.
The classic conceit is included. Monsters, whether from deep space or deep in the ground, are always after humans. This quality is essential to make them horrible. The monsters themselves are shaped like humans with some alterations in their head and skin, and move like grasshoppers. The monsters look like prototypes from other films. It’s as if the designers took a bit of this and a bit of that and threw in a few new design changes, like big ears, of course.
If you can live with the usual horror conventions and are ready for a family tale of fear and anguish with no absolute resolution, this is a movie for you.