95% on Rotten Tomatoes? It got 95% on Rotten Tomatoes? I had to go see what it was.
Alright, it can have that 95.
Sliding its way into theatres, John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place plays on a classic horror movie plot with a twist. The idea is, you can’t make sound, or they’ll hear you. I can’t say much more without treading the plot, so if you don’t want anything revealed, hit the back button before your unfortunate eyes cast upon S-P-O-I-L-E-R-S. They burn!
Are you still here? It’s a predator and prey horror, focusing on a family of five as they survive day by day on a farm deep in the mountains. This was a great choice. The movie wouldn’t have had the same emotional resonance had it been about groups of people, or a community being picked off one by one. The family’s story is paced with enough subtlety that when the stakes really start to ramp up, you’re hooked. You may not feel scared, but your nerves will be on edge.
I’m still amazed by the realism in this film. There were so many twists, and they were very fluid and fit into the narrative. There was plenty of luck involved to get the characters as far as they do, but it was still up to them to keep moving through the obstacles. They had to make decisions, and act on them fast. Sometimes the movie made decisions for them. And so they’d separate, fall, get hurt, or have some other thing happen that put them in danger all over again. How they maneuver through all that together and alone really makes you root for them. You know the hitch, right? The characters have to be silent. A Quiet Place is filmed almost entirely without dialogue.
The inherent challenges imposed by this limit are surpassed with top-notch techniques. The cinematography is great—no shot feels out of place. The actors are awesome. The lighting is an example to aspiring filmmakers. And since the movie is deprived of something so normal to other films, everything is a little more intense. You focus on the dotting of marker on whiteboard; the beady rush of descending grain; the cautious motions of someone sneaking through a room. Combined with the cinematography, these things silently captivate the viewer to make for a JUMP when something happens. This movie really is proof that when without the ability to perform one action, all your others become heightened.
Raising the movie’s emotional stakes are the story of this family recovering from a tragedy that left them in a rift. They can’t afford to be divided, and it is through the beautiful portrayal of love that they remained together. All of the dynamics were pretty rounded, too. At first I thought the main conflict lay with the daughter, played by young actress Millicent Simmonds. Later it seemed evident that each party had their own role and their own bonds to strengthen and mend. The focus on all instead of one was a vital plot point in A Quiet Place, and they did it right.
The movie wasn’t perfect. There were questions that came from the start, and they never get fully explained. Like, where did everyone else go? Did some people manage to flee, or is everyone else dead? How did the dad get all those newspapers if sound draws the monsters in? How wide is the monsters’ radius—just that certain area, or is their range sprawling across the planet? Why is there NO aircraft to see what’s going on and supposedly no free region hearing about this or caring to respond? And honestly, would a baby really make that little noise? Additional moments in the movie continue requiring your suspension of belief. Overall it’s great though, so you can give these mishaps a pass.
The climax portrays a subtle inverse commentary. I think this movie illustrates a societal message without being directly about that message. What is it? Well, it’s called A Quiet Place, and making as little noise as possible is a matter in which the characters have no choice. I think the movie is saying that silence kills. Except that here it keeps you alive. Oh, you know what I mean.
A Quiet Place is great. It’s going to be an academy nominee, I can feel it. Major props to the crew for taking risks and being rewarded with such a feat.