Monday, April 9, 2018

Review: A QUIET PLACE

by Patrick Bromley
Shhhhh...

...hhhhhit this movie is good.

As people who love movies more than, say, the average filmgoer, we tend to invest not just in the movies that we love but in the people who make them. We care about the lives off screen as much as we do about what's on screen. I'm not talking about celebrity gossip and I'm not talking about box office predictions and I'm not talking about the unfortunate trend of geek culture to talk in circles about every aspect of film years before it even gets made. No, what I'm talking about is like what happened with A Quiet Place this weekend, which opened to glowing reviews and a record-setting $50 million gross. I'm happy that it's a hit because it's a really, really good movie and I want really, really good movies to succeed, but more than that I'm happy because we have gotten to see director/star John Krasinski's life change in the span of a few days. It reminds me of just over a year ago when we horror fans got to watch Jordan Peele's life change with the success of Get Out: it was a big win for a talented filmmaker who made a great movie, and it felt like a win for all of us. Knowing just how much Krasinski's life has changed in the last few days makes me as happy as watching his new movie. And I was pretty goddamn happy watching A Quiet Place.
A few years from now, something has happened on the planet. Monsters have come from somewhere. They are blind, but they have an acute sense of hearing and attack based purely on sound. A family -- Krasinski, a pregnant Emily Blunt (Krasinski's real-life wife), their son (Noah Jupe), and their hearing impaired daughter (Millicent Simmonds) -- attempt to create a life for themselves and survive day to day, preparing for the birth of their baby, all while making as little noise as possible.

In his third outing as a director, former Office star Krasinski has made what might be an all-timer in the horror genre: an ingenious premise ("Be quiet or monsters come...GO!") and executing it beautifully. What made me so happy watching A Quiet Place was that I was fully aware of every aspect of the filmmaking and how well it was working: the simplicity of the screenplay by Krasinski, Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, the sophistication of how it sets up and pays off details or builds out its world, the gorgeous, evocative photography by Charlotte Bruus Christensen, the efficient editing by Christopher Tellefsen, the creative and effective score by Marco Beltrami, the performances by each member of this small ensemble. I could feel myself being expertly manipulated by every single person who worked on the movie and I loved them for it.
The very nature of A Quiet Place demands that it be, in the words of my friends Elric Kane and Brian Saur, "pure cinema" -- a tale told almost purely through visual movement and cutting and brilliant sound design. It's the kind of thing that only movies can do, and A Quiet Place does it incredibly well. There is a confidence to Krasinski's filmmaking that betrays his relative inexperience behind the camera; he's made movies before, but they were smaller, talkier indies and nothing with this level of technical craftsmanship. If not for some unfortunate creature design (it appears we're still living in the post-Cloverfield school of thought when it comes to making monsters because everything still looks the fucking same) rendered by CGI that isn't bad so much as it is disappointing in a film that's so otherwise tactile, I'd be ready to call A Quiet Place damn near perfect at being what it is. It's wicked exciting.
It's rare that I allow myself to be played in a movie anymore, but A Quiet Place played the shit out of me. It's tense in a way that, in lesser hands, could have turned downright comical; the way Krasinski continually turns the screws is nothing short of inspired, knowing just what to pay off and what to leave open, making us crazy with his refusal to close off moments that we're positive are going to resurface (without spoiling anything, I'm thinking of the nail). It's a trick I'd suggest John Krasinski learned from watching John Carpenter's original Halloween, but Krasinski has been making the rounds talking about how he didn't grow up a horror fan. That hasn't stopped him from making a great one, though, and while I kind of suspect he's not going to follow A Quiet Place with another horror film, I hope he returns to the genre sooner rather than later. This is a great movie.

20 comments:

  1. Pretty much agree with everything here and I really liked it as well. I legit got a lump in my throat during the truck scene. Besides how intense the whole experience was for me, they did an excellent job of getting me to care about the family. It's really hard to discuss this film without spoiling so much of it.

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    1. Tell me about it! I could barely write the review.

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  2. It's nice to see you get passionate about a new release! I was happy to see a great movie, but even more happy for what I knew this would mean for John Krasinski. I'm so excited for that guy.

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  3. Damn great review here for an indeed great film. Love how you talk about how he leaves open the “nail.” The audience kept audibly talking about it bc like you said he never releases us from it. Manipulated indeed.

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  4. The so-called "ingenious premise" has been done in many films before. Creatures being blind and going by sound. What makes this film so good is that Krasinski is well aware of that fact and plays with the expectations of audiences who've seen the concept before. And hell yes, it's the best horror film I've seen in years. I can't think of another that was so effective since "The Thing".

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    1. P.S. Not saying "The Thing" had that premise, just that it's suspense is as tight as Carpenter's was.

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  5. My only gripe with the story was the decision to get pregnant. To me, that seems like the most illogical decision one could make considering babies cry consistently for the first 1-2 years of their life. It would have made more sense if Blunt's character was pregnant before the monsters showed up.

    But apart from that, I agree with you all the way, Patrick!

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    1. You can't always decide something like that. We don't know that they have access to condoms or birth control.

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    2. All the more reason to weigh the risks of such an act!

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    3. I think that the loss of their youngest child factors in their decision to have another

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    4. I also think it gets to the heart of what the movie is about. There has to be hope for the future; otherwise, what's the point in trying to survive?

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    5. I think it's reasonable to need sex in that world. ;)

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    6. Yeah I think you're absolutely right in that regard. I just felt it was too great a risk, one that jeopardized their entire family.

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    7. Maybe they were playing Blumhouse's Truth or Dare and having a child was the dare.

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    8. "Truth or Dare" CGI brought to you by Snapchat.

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    9. If you don't do the dare YOU DIE!!!

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  6. i can't wait to see this. i really liked the little girl in Wonderstruck last year and was hoping to see here again soon

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  7. Awesome review! I loved how Krasinski was able to stop and have some really sweet moments in the midst of all the spooks. The waterfall scene and the dance scene in particular I thought were really touching and beautiful.

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  8. Just got to this today. Almost saw it this weekend, but had to first see the Fathom Events showing of Grease (Because it's limited! And it was worth it!) and Chappaquidick (Because the better half wanted to--fine, but depressing and maddening).

    So I finally see The Quiet Place, and holy smokes, what a good, taut, edge-of-your-seat flick. The don't-talk-or-the-bad-things-come conceit works great. At one point somebody dropped a popcorn bucket or something in the theater and I think the audience collectively jumped and thought, "Shh! The monsters will hear you!" The movie didn't feel the need to play all its cards, and gave the audience enough credit to figure out the part of the hand that wasn't shown. Simple, but effective as hell. It was thrilling all the way through, and awesome to see from first time (First time? Early, at least) director Jim Halpert.

    Mild spoilers. Not really, but I'm hyper-spoiler-sensitive myself, so ***SPOILER ALERT*** for below.

    I had beef with one of the scenes the trailer gave away--thought it gave away too much--but as soon as I saw where it happened in the movie and how it resolved, I forgave it completely.

    The ending was perfect. There are not many horror flicks that show that kind of restraint, while still giving a satisfying capper. Totally agree--shit this movie is good.

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