Plain, Simple Tom reviews . . . “A Quiet Place” (2018)

A Quiet Place takes place in upstate New York at a time when blind monstrous beings have descended on the population, using sound to locate their victims and in the midst of the terror, two parents (Emily Blunt and John Krasinski) and their children (Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe) struggle to live their lives while avoiding the creatures, taking all precautions necessary to avoid making a single sound. But with the mother being heavily pregnant, nearing ever closer to the due date, it seems to be only a matter of time before the silence is broken and the terror is unleashed . . .

The story of A Quiet Place is refreshingly original, imaginative and unique and it is written cleverly and thoughtfully by John Krasinski, Bryan Woods and Scott Beck. It treats us to a new kind of movie monster (looking like a cross between Venom and the Demogorgon) and on the whole, though it loses momentum in the second half when the monsters are seen much more, this film provides a remarkably unsettling experience that’s backed up by an intelligent, solid script, allowing us to know the “situation” without too much exposition and giving us strong characters that we can really care about. And whilst A Quiet Place is a horror and handles all of those elements brilliantly, there’s also plenty of emotion and tender feeling involved as it’s also about the strength of a family unit, the film showing us the love and trust that they have for each other and all of these heartfelt moments, found mostly in the first half, fit perfectly alongside all the chills and thrills.

To compliment the excellent story, A Quiet Place is brilliantly shot and directed and aesthetically, it’s note perfect. The frantic, adrenaline fueled scenes are shot well as the lighting is just right and there’s no choppy editing so we’re always able to see just what’s going on and as director, Krasinski effectively creates a tense and nail-biting atmosphere throughout, particularly in the film’s superior opening half where the patient use of silence is insanely compelling and there’s so much uncertainty about what’s going to happen. But in addition, many of the quieter early scenes (setting up a false sense of security before the carnage kicks in) are shot beautifully and the atmosphere at the beginning is wonderfully tranquil and a joy to watch on screen – so this goes to show that A Quiet Place is a cut above your average horror film since it handles the scary scenes well but also finds time for unexpected moments of genuine emotion and beauty.

A truly excellent part of the film is the music and here, it’s provided by the great Marco Beltrami. For the fast paced, thrilling and scary moments, the score is pulsating and full of tension, using increasingly fast-paced heartbeat sounds and generally keeping the drama at maximum. But as well as the ideal horror themes, the music in the slower, more tranquil moments at the beginning (and briefly at the end) is atmospheric and beautiful, going alongside the peaceful cinematography to create a wonderful sense of beauty to counterbalance the horror. There’s also Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon”, which is heard in a touching, tender and quite funny moment between mother and father.

And on a similar note, the sound design, as you might expect, is crisp and effective – using those natural sounds very effectively as well as utilising a different kind of silence when showing what the deaf daughter is hearing and also by using loud noises directly after quiet moments to really scare the bejesus out of you!

The film has a very small cast but the small family of actors deliver some pretty impressive performances, using facial expressions, body language and sign language for the vast majority of the feature. As the parents, Emily Blunt and John Krasinski are great as they effectively show the love and concern that they show for their kids, coming across as smart, strong and unyielding paternal figures who share a strong bond with their family. They go through the physical and emotional ringers, especially Blunt’s character, and they confidently lead the feature, sharing perfectly believable and natural chemistry – there’s no doubt that they’re married in real life. And backing them up, Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe are ideally cast as the two kids and in particular, Simmonds is a revelation – a talented deaf actress who plays the part with genuine soul and emotion, giving us a character who is incredibly likeable and bright.

But the parents do the “shush” action once too often. As if the kids don’t know by now to keep quiet!

A masterfully directed film with a magnificent score, a quartet of very effective performances, and an original, imaginative and multi-layered story, balancing the horror with moments of heartfelt family drama.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

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