At the Movies with Alan Gekko: A Quiet Place

MPAA Rating: PG-13/ Genre: Horror-Thriller/ Stars: Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, Cade Woodward, Leon Russom/ Runtime: 90 minutes

I feel it is safe to start this review off by saying that A Quiet PlaceĀ is easily one of the best horror films I have had the pleasure of seeing in years. Indeed not only will this movie have any audience who decides to watch it from beginning to end quivering with terror, but this easily is one of the finest horror films of the last decade. Indeed A Quiet Place is not only a fairly quick sit at a lean and mean 90 minutes, but it brings enough pathos and skill to the material that ultimately it manages to prove more powerful both from a narrative and emotional perspective than many of the other horror films we get every year. Indeed John Krasinski has managed to put on a genuinely remarkable display for sustaining tension on the level of perhaps only Carpenter and Spielberg, and I sincerely hope and pray that this is only his first exploration into this storied genre that he engages in.

The plot is as follows: the movie drops us in on, what we learn through a title card, day 86 of what appears to be a catastrophic invasion. It seems that the Earth has been ruthlessly invaded by blind insect-looking aliens that, despite possessing the usual attributes of strength and speed, also possess an omnipotent hearing ability. Thus should you find it in you to make any noise they will hunt you down, and you are almost certainly screwed. So it is in this world where most of humanity has been wiped out that we are introduced to the Abbott family. They are your typical family who have only managed to survive this annihilation for this long due to the fact that their daughter is deaf thus requiring the whole family to learn sign language….a useful skill in this world. Yet complications have now begun to emerge in the form of family matriarch Evelyn coming close to delivering a newborn into the world, and family patriarch Lee being driven to the brink in his attempts not only to prepare for the newborn, but to also keep the family safe and try to find a way to drive the monsters back. However when Evelyn goes into labor over 3 weeks early, Lee must now race the clock in a dual-tiered mission of not only figuring out how, if any such way exists, to thwart the creatures, but to also keep his family safe no matter what the cost.

Now I feel that the first thing that you will most likely observe about this film is the fact that it actually is scary, if not downright terrifying. Indeed I think it is safe to say that actor John Krasinski has managed to actually found another side of himself professionally as a filmmaker in the ilk of early John Carpenter. I say this because like that legend, Krasinski has made a horror film that is a master stroke of utilizing a kind of slowly-but-surely rising tension, and then peppering it throughout with moments of pure horror. Not only that, but Krasinski also makes the brilliant decision to take his slow and sweet time in resolving the threads that he takes the time to lay out during the course of the film’s first act and trust me when I say that the wait is worth it every single time.

Yet the thing that is more astonishing about that fact is that this is a film which manages to accomplish all that it does in its 90-minute runtime without once managing to insert any false twists and turns into the narrative. Indeed make no mistake; this is a monster movie for the 21st century, albeit one that is made with an unusually high level of finesse and style, and while there are the prerequisite jump scares that have to be present given the film that this is, they are actually earned by audiences for once instead of being crammed down their throats. I also really appreciate how, unlike most horror films, the characters in this film act like human beings, and so they don’t deliberately go out of their way to make absolutely maddening and infuriatingly moronic choices that right away make them a target for the monsters. Instead this is a film that wisely chooses to treat the family at the heart of the story with a dignity and respect, and as such we as an audience are not only more invested in them emotionally, but the resolution of what happens with all the characters actually feels earned rather than forced.

Yet I do feel that in no way, shape, form, or fashion does it hinder this film that it also looks remarkably stunning. Indeed this film has a country-esque locale that really does possess a desolate-style that almost reminds me of such films as say No Country for Old Men for example. Indeed this is a film that does a wonderful job of properly utilizing the seemingly vastness of the setting in order to sell you on the idea that this is what our world would look like if it suddenly became vacant of 90% of the human population. Plus when you couple this vastness alongside a truly remarkable sense for set design, with particular regard to when everything in the movie proceeds to get soaked in a rose-red esque lumination, I feel that this is a movie which delivers on its visuals in a way that few other horror films have managed to do as of late.

Now another element of the narrative building in this film that I think works absolutely brilliantly all resides in just how much Krasinski chooses to showcase without a single word of dialogue uttered. Indeed this is a film which chooses to let context clues and written messages aid us in the audience in being able to understand not only what has happened in this world, but the current state of the world within this film as well. Indeed even in the moments where the dialogue, as little of it as there is, does in fact occur, Krasinski makes the bold decision of having this film’s characters utilize American Sign Language in order to communicate with each other. As such I feel you should know dear reader that this is 95% a dialogue-free film from beginning to end.

Now be this on purpose or not, I do feel that this film’s bold choice to choose to omit dialogue as much as possible also possess something else. It also possesses the added impact of making the seldom and few scenes in which characters actually speak to one another that much more potent. Indeed make no mistake: every member of theĀ main cast does all bring their A-Game and deliver scene-stealing performances. Yet by withholding the ability to speak from the characters, we are ultimately treated by Krasinski and Blunt some powerful moments where they are able to just unpack and come to grips with their varying emotions that have been building up on the inside due to the long stretches of quiet that they have to endure in order to survive. Indeed suffice it to say that these moments really are as potent emotionally as a moment of catharsis from a film going perspective can hope to get.

Yet it is that catharsis which actually proves to be one of the more gorgeous things that this film provides. Indeed this may be a movie that is filled to the brim with master strokes of both tension and suspense right from the word go, yet this film also chooses to give the audience something to really ponder long after the end credits have rolled and the film has ended. Indeed much in the same vein as how Jordan Peele’s horror masterpiece Get Out really showcases a unique perspective on the state of just what exactly racism in America today looks like, I feel that this movie showcases a glimpse at not only how hard it is to be a parent, but also how hard it can be to really have your family coalesce and stick together in the face of unplanned for adversity. Indeed there really is such an abundance of thematics to this film that as a result it really helps to give this film a much more emotional richness than what is usually to be expected from a film in this genre.

All in all it may be a thrilling, and engaging film, but A Quiet Place is also, in the same vein as Halloween, a true master-class in filmmaking that I feel every horror fan needs to see at least once. Indeed it really is no secret that the horror genre has here recently seen a lot more positively received films, and I feel that A Quiet Place definitely will represent that uptick in quality with pride and class. All I can ask then is this: when you sit down to watch this home enjoy the ride, and whatever you do… don’t make a sound. On a scale of 1-5 I give A Quiet Place a solid 4 out of 5.