15 May 2018

Review: A Quiet Place

(Dir: John Krasinski, 2018)

How much faith do you have in your fellow cinema-goer? Presented with a Friday night free to go to the cinema I had doubts about whether it was actually worth watching A Quiet Place in an auditorium filled with other people (on opening night in Leicester Square no less). You know, the popcorn-munching, sweet wrapper-rustling, not so subtly talking, perpetually phone-checking masses who seem to populate cinemas these days. Would it be worth sacrificing the massive screen and immersive sound for the controlled isolation of a home viewing experience in a few months time? Fortunately the answer was no as it (amazingly) turned out to be a respectful audience. A Quiet Place is a hell of an atmospheric film, putting a lot of weight into it's sound design and the very concept of silence, clearly gripping the entire audience. The tagline sums the plot up nice and succinctly – if they can hear you they can kill you but it's more than that. With the sole cast members comprising the family headed by John Krasinski and Emily Blunt, it feels more character driven than expected. We work through the family's unique dynamic and understand how they manage to survive, mostly resorting to sign language to communicate, rarely able to utter a word unless it's a whisper. These linguistic limitations certainly enhance the film.

A sinuous tension roils beneath the surface as we wait for the one inevitable sound that will summon a rapid, savage attack by these mysterious creatures. And when it comes it's all controlled masterfully, with a handful of breathtaking set pieces that leave you teetering on the edge of your seat. Krasinski, who directed the film, gets the balance between the suspense, horror and quieter family moments just right neither overdoing it nor leaving you feeling as if it's lacking. We only get little snippets of information about the creatures and why they're on Earth and that's enough, as there's greater fear in knowing less. Admirably the prologue jumps straight into an incident that directly affects the family 80 days in rather than focusing on how they survived the initial onslaught, which in other hands would be the more obvious way to kick things off. The overall brevity helps too.

Quiet Place is a genuinely suspenseful film that delivers on it's central premise superbly, proving yet again that reducing the reliance on the spoken word can really enhance a film. There are a few minor nitpicky issues but they're easily overlooked if you let it take you on it's ride. Well under halfway through the year and Quiet Place is one of the best films released so far.

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