Geektoberfest Day 8: Respectful Reel Reviews #1

MOVIE TITLE:

A Quiet Place

IMDB YEAR RELEASED:

2018

STARRING:

Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, Cade Woodward

DIRECTED BY:

 John Krasinski

TAGLINE:

“If they hear you, they hunt you.”

SUMMARY:

A Quiet Place is a post-apocalyptic story that revolves around a family forced to live in silence because the world has been invaded by audio-sensitive aliens that attack anything that makes sound.

REVIEW:

Within the first five minutes of the movie, a tone is set where the viewer realizes that this is a serious horror movie. Sure, you might think that because it’s directed by the guy that plays Jim (John Krasinski) from the American version of the Office that this is just going to be a glitzy, Hollywood, CGI-heavy, goofy, summer blockbuster, cash grab. It was not that. I was pleasantly surprised. Days after watching it, I was still thinking about it, and when a movie does that, I know that it was good.

I don’t do spoilers, so with my reviews understand that you’re always going to get careful discussion of themes and concepts that are sometimes purposefully vague. Also, recognize that genres are weird in the sense that objectivity is impossible. My life experiences have shaped me to be attenuated to specific cues that are unique to me, and so I will try to contextualize the things that I loved about a movie, and the things that I did not. You’ve already seen my Top Ten Favorite Horror movies, so you can kind of get a feel for my tastes in Horror. Although this movie was released in 2018, and its box office was 300 million, I will stick with my non-spoilers commitment, just in case you are one of the few that didn’t see this movie.

Also, as you can see, I have titled MY movie reviews with the word Respectful. The reason I’ve chosen that word is because I’m going to try to refrain from giving you SNARK in my reviews. I’m Puerto Rican and this is difficult for us. We are culturally stratified by our ability to provide snark, and to further top it off, reviewers thrive on snark, but I will constantly strive toward snark-free reviews. This is a contract I’m making with you. I hope you can help me keep my promise. So what follows is a “snark free” respectful review of A Quiet Place.

I’ve already communicated that the beginning scenes establish a tone that from the onset puts you inside the story on day 89 after the apocalypse. The survivors should have already determined a strategy to perpetuate survival. It’s been 3 months since the initiating incident. The family is in Larkin’s Market and Pharmacy looking for medication for the middle child who is having what looks to be a medical issue. They are all barefoot and tiptoeing through the store when the youngest reaches up on a shelf to grab a toy rocket. When it falls the older daughter catches it just in time. The father angrily signs, “No!” and removes the batteries from the toy and you say, “OK. I get it, but is your four-year-old going to get it?” That, of course, then leads us into the drama-inciting incident that overshadows this entire movie. Again, although it happens within the first five minutes, I will not spoil it. There is a bulletin board that the viewer can see in the background with pictures of the missing and newspaper articles that communicate an alien invasion and that sound appears to be dangerous.

The story jumps ahead 300 something days and we see that Emily Blunt’s character, the mother, is pregnant. I know some people complain about this as a plot contrivance, but I totally see it as plausible. When a married couple goes through a dramatic emotional trauma, there are two dichotomous actions that may be taken by the couple. They can either draw apart and divorce (which is not a very real option in this case) or draw together. Clearly, this couple has drawn together. However, although the parents have drawn together, the children feel distant from the particulars of the current situation and their isolation is palpable and real. Just contemplate for a minute on the idea that your children cannot make noise, and you can understand the bleak nature of this film and the impossibility of survival. Children don’t like to be quiet and sound equals death so, yeah! My kids would be goners.

There are scenes of suspense that rival Hitchcock. The aliens are CGI, but I don’t really know how they could pull those off with practical effects. The budget was $30 million which is a lot for a horror movie, but minute for the caliber of talent and CGI effects necessary here. The acting is spot on. Millicent Simmonds is a young actress that bears watching. The studio, no doubt wanted a known actress to play this role, but the serendipity necessary to cast an actual deaf actress, in hindsight is nothing short of brilliant. I understand that some people might argue that the story is very simple in its contrivances. One might claim that the dialogue is trite in places and I would agree. Krasinski himself says, he studied horror movies, followed the story beats, took note of the emotional manipulation that transpires in movies, and copied that. To his credit, any man that’s a Dad totally understands the dilemmas inherent in this movie. You want to protect your children, but by the same token you must teach them how to survive in the world. Only within the framework of this movie, the cost of failure is death. The cinematography is excellent, but even more important in this very quiet movie is the sound design. In most movies, there are constant sounds, music occupying the silences, but not in this movie. In this movie it was essential that the sound manipulate in a more overt manner. For all of the reasons I’ve listed above, this movie was my top horror movie for 2018, hands down.

Left to right: Noah Jupe plays Marcus Abbott, Millicent Simmonds plays Regan Abbott and John Krasinski plays Lee Abbott in A QUIET PLACE, from Paramount Pictures.

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