DELAYED REACTION: A Quiet Place

The problem with depression is that it can take some time to get to the point where one feels the urge to write anything. However while I might miss the bus on writing about a movie during its release I’ll have more time to think it over. This series will catch up on the movies I’ve seen in the last few weeks/months but never got around to writing about before.

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While a horror movie lives and dies by the quality of its scares and, by extension, monsters, the best of them are more interested in the characters and themes that the movie explores. Alien, for example, is more effective and memorable because you care about the poor crew of the Nostromo before they’re picked off one-by-one by the iconic Xenomorph, while also addressing some pretty heavy themes (mostly around birth and pregnancy, worth a further read if you’re unfamiliar and/or interested). Now, I’m not one to invoke Alien lightly but when it comes to tension and horror A Quiet Place deserves the comparison.

For the uninitiated, the movie takes place in the near-future after an invasion of…something. Its never made clear what exactly the monsters are or where they came from – all the better for it – but what we are told from the offset is that they hunt by sound. As a result the majority of A Quiet Place‘s 91 minute running time is without any dialogue whatsoever, with the family at the heart of this movie communicating almost entirely in sign language.

This conceit already sets A Quiet Place apart from the standard of major releases, least of all as a modern horror movie – the genre recently seems to be veering towards loud and proud spectacle – and especially one with Michael Bay’s involvement. The lack of any diegetic sound for the most part acts as an opportunity for more tension throughout the film, rather than any sort of constraint, and really allows the actors’ performances to shine through. Most notably Millicent Simmonds – who plays the oldest child in the family and is deaf in real life – absolutely steals the movie and shines throughout. Credit is due too to John Krasinski, who for his first foray into the horror genre has created something that feels like he’s been making these kinds of movies for years. The whole world feels thoroughly lived-in and real, and he shows enough discipline to hold off the full reveal of the monster(s) until the tension has been properly and deftly built.

A Quiet Place is ultimately a very special movie, and with a sequel already on the cards it’s clear that the studio are well aware of what they have here. It’s hard to say if this has the potential to carry over into sequels and whatever else the Hollywood machine will try to beat out of this movie, but I have confidence that in 10, 15 years or so we’ll still be talking about this movie in a positive light – any potential sound-tracking monster invasions notwithstanding.

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